Would I have given Jesus anything so costly? Have I ever given to Jesus so sacrificially? These are the questions I ponder when I read about Mary’s extravagance. She gives Jesus a gift that she cannot recoup. Her gift is a once-in-a-lifetime sacrifice.
Throughout Lent, it is helpful to consider our gifts to God and God’s gifts to us. These gifts are not equal. God has given far more than we can repay. This is the very definition of grace. God has given us the extravagant gift of grace at Christ’s expense. Our gifts can be a means of saying to God, “Thank you.”
One of my friends has always kept a small paper doll on her shelf to remind her of God’s grace. The doll—given by a child years ago—reminds her that we receive gifts of mercy and great extravagance. A child’s prize can become our prize too. Any gift given in love has the potential to change our attitude and spirit.
I often marvel at our call to give. God calls us to be good stewards of our blessings. I can give. You can give. Together our gifts can add up to God’s work—a blessing that we can share with the world in Jesus’ name. These gifts don’t have to be expensive. They just have to come from the heart.
As we consider the gifts we give, perhaps new gifts come to mind. There may be people we long to help, situations we hope to impact, suffering we desire to help alleviate with our generosity or intervention or prayer. God desires our partnership and our commitment to sharing these gifts with all God’s children.
O God, help me to open my hand and heart today to give all that I can. Help me to give out of gratitude for your grace. Amen.
God is constantly performing works of renewal. Isaiah had warned Israel of judgment, yet here the prophet turns his attention to the other part of God’s message, that of restoration. God will breathe new life into the people, like sending rivers into the desert. The psalmist celebrates a communal festival in honor of the renewing deeds of God, who has turned their weeping into joy. Paul also experiences this work of renewal. He previously had boasted of his privileged position in society, but God has changed his thinking so that he considers his knowledge of Christ his greatest possession. In John a woman named Mary begins to point our attention to Christ’s coming passion by anointing Jesus’ feet. Crowds begin to gather, and the stage is set for the impending conflict.
Read Isaiah 43:16-21. When have you seen God make a way for a new thing in your life?
Read Psalm 126. Consider how your joy and laughter might heal others.
Read Philippians 3:4b-14. When has God’s strength helped you finish a race, literally or metaphorically?
Read John 12:1-8. God gives gifts to all of us. How do you share your gift from God with others?
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