ANOINTING JESUS WITH OUR TEARS
Scripture reading: Luke 7: 36-38
An uninvited woman comes to the house of a Pharisee who has asked Jesus to dinner. She brings with her an alabaster jar of ointment. Somehow she is able to “bathe his feet with her tears”. In this act of devotion we see a moment of deep gratitude and deep sorrow.
In the gospel of Luke this story follows the healing of the centurion’s servant and the raising of the widow’s son at Nain. The story also comes after Jesus’ teachings and sermons on forgiveness, blessings, and love for enemies.
This woman who is not named, is from the city. Had she seen healings? Had she heard the teachings on forgiveness? Perhaps she had begun to believe she could be forgiven because of what Jesus said? We don’t know.
What we do know is that Jesus forgives her and says “your faith has saved you, go in peace.” Jesus also tells those watching that through her actions, she shows great love in response to great forgiveness.
The image of tears washing Jesus’ feet captures my imagination. No words are ascribed to her in the text, but her gesture speaks volumes. An uninvited presence, she comes from beyond the boundaries of the table to enact a word of lamentation, repentance, and devotion. In her silence she speaks as no one else dares.
In this season of repentance, a time of lament for our broken and fragile world. May we in this time of pandemic, when we see sickness and loss all around us, be reminded that Jesus heals and forgives and loves still.
As we pray today for the world and its sorrows, for ourselves and our loss, for the gift of forgiveness and the great love we have been shown in the death and resurrection of Christ, I invite you to fill a jar or jug with water and pour it out on the earth. Perhaps you will water a plant, maybe it will be a symbol of the gift of tears. Tears of repentance and tears of joy. Below is a prayer to recite over this gift of water, these gifts of tears, this washing over us of love and forgiveness poured out for us in the life, death and resurrection of the Son of God.
O Lord, we name our sorrows, our losses, and our wounds, those we inflict and those we receive. May our grieving beckons us, too, to name our causes for joy, to name our dreams and longings. Help us to share us our heart’s desire with you, in lamentation and in joy, so we may remember your boundless love in the heart of a fragile world and bear witness to You Lord, our healer, redeemer, savior, the One who forgives us and the One who blesses us. Amen
-- Pastor Kelly Giese