“The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3
Yesterday, the sanctuary was full of life. Palm branches waved in the air as the choir paraded around a crowd of standing worshippers. Sweet Hosannas reverberated through the room, sung with joy and a touch of nostalgia. The friends, relatives and guests who joined our worship were a reminder of our shared life. Palm Sunday, like Easter, is a time for the larger family of a congregation to be gathered together again in joy.
The sanctuary windows in this congregation are clear. It affords us the opportunity to see out into the neighborhood as we worship. Through those windows, a different kind of life continued to grind on. There were families walking dogs. People in cars drove up and down Roberts Street on their way to shop. People were working behind the counter of the Super America. All completely oblivious to our joy and celebration.
In a distant land, a Coptic congregation, gathered for a similar worship, were coping with the aftermath of an explosion. Its family torn apart by a tragic event which resulted in death. In some homes, families gathered to comfort each other after devastating gas attacks. Still in other places, the acts of violence outside reminded household members the frailty of peace.
Today, Jesus gathers with old friends – Martha, Mary and Lazarus. In the intimacy of a divine moment, the corruption of the world continues to threaten the household’s joy. Inside, Judas tries to twist an act of humility and reverence into some kind of horrible sin. Outside, political forces sought to kill those gathered inside. Despite the evil intentions of men, still, “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” Some joy is too overwhelming to be subdued by hatred.
This ancient moment in Bethany provides a wonderful context for us in the modern world as we enter into Holy Week. We will search for moments of celebration, desiring to be renewed in the hope of the Easter event. However, the forces that defy God will not be taking a break. Whether that be distress in our hearts and minds, or in the world around us. We will need to be reminded the joy we celebrate cannot be taken away. Its fragrance continues to fill the world with hope.
Click to read: John 12: 1-11
- Where do you find contradictions between your faith life and work life?
- How can we claim joy can endure in the face of overwhelming hatred for humanity?
- How does your faith life influence how you address the needs of the world?
- Where do you find renewal to continue to serve your neighbor?
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