LENT Day 20 – Hospitality

Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. – John 12

When I was young my grandma had cancer.  She lived in a different state from my mom and two of her sister’s.  For reasons I’m unaware of, she was to do treatments near us.  That meant an extended stay for her.  I can’t even recall if she stayed at our house the entire time or just a portion of the time, but she was with us.

This is what I remember.  My grandma liked to visit, but only for a little while.  She didn’t like being far from her home for very long.  I always remember how cute it was when it was time for her to go back home she would have her suitcase packed up and ready to go much earlier than probably necessary!  This time was different.  She seemed more settled in our house.  In my teenage brain it was probably just that she was resigned to get her treatments – I’m sure she still would’ve rather been at home.  I had two siblings that are seven and ten years older then me – so in my memory of this time they weren’t around.  That meant when my parents were at work it was just me and grandma.

It was such a special time for me because I got to serve her in a way I never had to before or ever would again.  I would get up and she would say “Em, will you curl my hair?”  I know it’s such a simple act, but I loved every minute of getting to sit with her and curl her hair to help her get ready in the morning.  I loved my grandma and loved our time just the two of us sitting and talking while curling hair.  This was a beautiful moment for me that I treasure still to this day and it is what made my heart love her a bit deeper.

Our story today Anointing His Feet shares another beautiful moment of hospitality where Mary is serving her dear friend Jesus.  A moment in time where her heart had to have swelled and loved a bit deeper.  A moment where those looking on questioned and wondered why she did such a strange thing.  But Jesus knew her love for him.  He knew the moment was special.  He knew that this true act of hospitality would be a memory that Mary could take with her when Jesus was no longer here.  For that he was grateful.

Six days before Passover, Jesus entered Bethany where Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead, was living.  Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home.  Martha served.  Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them.  Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair.  The fragrance of the oils filled the house.

Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, “Why wasn’t this oil sold and the money given to the poor?  It would have easily brought three hundred silver pieces.”  He said this not because he cared two cents about the poor but because he was a thief.  He was in charge of their common funds, but also embezzled them.

Jesus said, “Let her alone.  She’s anticipating and honoring the day of my burial.  You always have the poor with you.  You don’t always have me.”

Word got out among the Jews that he was back in town.  The people came to take a look, not only at Jesus but also at Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead.  So the high priests plotted to kill Lazarus because so many of the Jews were going over and believing in Jesus on account of him.

You see friends, hospitality is much more than a meal around a table.  You can see from the photos above that it is being patient and only taking what you need at a store during a pandemic.  It is making a young camper feel safe and loved away from home.  It is serving treats and collecting money for those in need.  It is serving whipped cream directly into a friend’s mouth because it makes us giggle and not take life so serious.

Hospitality is spending time with your sick grandma and curling her hair so she can still feel a little like herself when she’s away from the comforts of her home.  I was able to provide my grandma with a true act of hospitality that gave me a memory that has lasted the 15 years since she passed.  How can you be creative; during our quarantined time, in serving someone today?

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