Lenten Devotion - Fifth Sunday in Lent - April 3, 2022

Lenten Devotion - Fifth Sunday in Lent - April 3, 2022

April 01, 2022

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Fifth Sunday in Lent - April 3, 2022

John 12:1-8
Rev Dr. Heecheon Jeon
Conference Superintendent, Riverview Park District

John 12:1-8

12:1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."

A season of spring is coming around the corner. What we see in the ground is not only fresh shoots or green sprouts that are bursting out of bulbs or roots, but also the dirt itself that has been incubating a life of change for ages. Whether winter storms hit on the ground, or a deadly tornado sweeps around the ground, or a torrential downpour of rain floods into the ground, a new life is coming alive irrevocably because it has been already always cultivated and rooted and resurrected in the ground. It seems Mother Nature works with that “grounded” anticipatory hope.

Mary might be in a season of anticipatory hope in which she sees what is coming in Jesus’ life so that she wants not only to celebrate the very moment of joy from Lazarus’ coming back alive, but at the same time to prepare Jesus who is going through his own suffering and death and resurrection. By pouring out the invaluable fragrant perfume on Jesus’ feet, she prepares her heart filled with convicted hope for what is not seen yet but what is already realized here and now. 

Perhaps, Mary knows how to prepare this liminal time. By faith she commits herself to Jesus’ life. By faith she prepares the death of Jesus with the great expectation of what is to come: resurrection. Truly, Mary’s extravagant generosity and outpouring love for Jesus are the foundation upon which humanity is kept alive and hope is made real and life goes on.

How can we prepare our church in such a time as this? I have been thinking about our beloved United Methodist Church at the brink of disruption. Are we dying or are we going to be resurrected as a new being? In fact, it may have to be a continuous journey of faith with both/and: We are dying obviously, but we will be resurrected in the end. Is this the anticipatory hope that Mary has? 

Today as an exercise for the Lenten journey I will go out and play with dirt (humus), reimagining what is to come from “Ground of Being” in this natural cycle of life. The church, community, humanity, and all other things are participating in this life cycle in which we live fully with anticipatory preparedness. 

God of life,  

You are the God of resurrection hope. May we anticipate a life that is fully life in and through you. May our heart be filled with joy and convicted hope for what is not seen and what is already always realized through our faith in Jesus who is the source of life. Amen.