Monday, June 10, 2013

Tuesday June 11, 2013

Today’s text

Luke 7:36-39

One of the Pharisees invited [Jesus] to a meal. When he arrived at the Pharisee's house and took his place at table, suddenly a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town. She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment. She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, he would know who this woman is and what sort of person it is who is touching him and what a bad name she has.' 


What do you see?

A woman with a bad reputation or a human soul who loves extravagantly? A histrionic display or an unshackled heart?

A generation ago Billy Joel sang that he’d “rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.” Jesus agrees with Billy. So do I.

When the saints, like this Pharisee, focus on properness and purity they are no fun and uninteresting. They are also blind to the only things that matter, loving, laughter and life.

And the Spirit of God is nothing if not the Spirit of life, laughter and love.

The Divine Spirit sets the heart free from its narrow constrictions to risk looking ridiculous, over-the-top and foolish for the sake of the love that bubbles at its core.

The Pharisee, Simon by name, lives comfortably within the constrictions of proprieties of law and convention, but I’d rather hang out with the woman who cried at Jesus feet and wiped them with her tears.

God knows, she’d make me nervous. I’d squirm in her presence because at age 60 there is still too damn much of Simon in me.

I learned social niceties quite young and was told the ‘nice people’ do the ‘right things’ don’t have bad reputations, and ‘good Christians’ are polite, respectful and don’t engage in unsettling emotional displays..

I should have known immediately that this was nonsense and had nothing to do with Jesus, but I guess I am a slow learner.

The woman would shame me, too. The free flow of her heart, shedding tears onto the feet of the soul who had healed her soul, reveals the hesitance of my heart, my tendency to hold back and be cautious. Such hesitancy resists the Spirit’s urge to praise and sing, laugh and weep at the crazy giddiness of the gospel of God’s illimitable love.

It also obscures the beauty and joy that would flow through me (and you) just as certainly as it does through this woman.

Weeping, pouring her heart onto Jesus feet, she is a compelling portrait of a soul set free, a heart come alive. She, not Simon, is the model of true humanity.

She invites us to throw our cautions to the wind, forget our self-protective proprieties and let ourselves feel … and express … the crazy love that is the Spirit within, hungry to be set free.

Pr. David L. Miller

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