Have you ever been anointed with oil? What smell do you associate with that experience? Do you remember the feel of it? In my experience, which has always been in mainline Protestant settings, those doing the anointing tend to be fairly stingy with the oil. Their hands barely skim the tip of a single finger along the surface of the oil before marking my forehead with a cross.
And, having anointed others, I know this stinginess comes with good reason. Oil is abundant and overwhelming. Its aroma lingers far longer than I would expect. The skin stays heavy with it, fingers and face carrying the feel and look of the oil for hours after.
Yet here the psalmist proclaims a true abundance of oil, anointing oil poured out over the head of Aaron, running down his beard and over the collar of his robes. The psalmist describes a wildly indulgent and overwhelming richness of oil that spills out in excess, far beyond what could possibly be needed, even to the point of waste.
God promises this abundance of goodness in the midst of community: a wild, indulgent, excessive goodness that lingers; that remains far longer than expected; that changes all it touches, leaving behind a lingering aroma seen and felt for hours and days after—far longer than we have any right to imagine or expect.
In the union of community, God pours out blessing, changing the fabric of being for all who participate. When have you been met with abundance in community? How have you offered abundance to those in your community?
Abundant God, pour out your unity and peace like oil upon my head. Open my every sense to your blessing, so that I may bless others, unafraid of scarcity and trusting in abundance. Amen.
Easter promises us the possibility of new life in Christ, but what should that life look like? Scripture makes clear that one sign of union with God is unity with each other. How wonderful it is, the psalmist says, when there is peace among brothers and sisters. Unity and peace do not mean simply the lack of conflict but proactive care for one another. The Christians in Acts lived out this care in a practical way by giving of their material means to help one another. John in his epistle tells us that this fellowship with one another is ultimately modeled on the fellowship we share with God and Christ, while in his Gospel, John teaches that belief in Jesus the Messiah is what binds us all together in this new life.
• Read Acts 4:32-35. In what ways have you experienced the generosity of community?
• Read Psalm 133. How and where do you experience the wild, extravagant love of God?
• Read 1 John 1:1–2:2. How do you keep ever before you the urgency and joy of Easter?
• Read John 20:19-31. What fears keep you locked away from the world?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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