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.
John 12:5-6 (Message)
Father God, show us where we might find you at work in unexpected ways in our community
We welcome our preacher this morning who is Mr Ian Valentine
After service tea hosts Bob and Evelyn
Our thanks for the flowers this morning which are given by Gwyneth Williams in memory of her husband Geraint
Organist: Joan McGowan
Sunday 20th March
11.00am Rev Richard Sharples (P, AAW)
Vestry Steward – Elizabeth and Sheila
Door Steward – Betti
Tea Hosts – Val and Betti
Mon 14th Every Day with Jesus Bible Study in Lounge 10.30am
Tue 15th Cytun Lent Study in the Lounge 7.30pm
Thu 17th Circuit Meeting at Rhosymedre 7.30pm
Fri 18th Friday Lunch Club in the Hall at noon £2.50
Fri 18th Circuit Men’s Supper in the Hall 7.00pm
Sat 19th LA Resources Afternoon at Ruabon 2.00pm
Sat 19th Ceilidh at Regent Street 7.00pm – £5/£3 in aid of Annie, Mary and James
Tue 29th Coffee Morning at Llangollen 10.00am
Wed 30th “Time Out” a monthly reflective worship at Hope Parish Church 7.30pm (4th Wed in the month)
Please pray for the following:
Pete and Ruby Kasprowicz
All those who care for those in need.
We thank God for answered prayer and ask that he helps us to understand that all things do work together for good.
The Unexpected God
For many years I have very much enjoyed reading this passage because of it’s vivid imagery and dramatic introduction of the passion story that is about to commence. But I have also struggled to preach it. Not only is there the scene of Mary washing Jesus’ feet with her hair, so reminiscent of the scene of an unnamed woman in Luke 7, but also the undercurrent of suspicion about Judas, the significance of the perfume in relation to burial customs, and Jesus’ widely misinterpreted line about always having the poor with us.
This year, however, what struck me was simply how unexpected most of the actions of this scene were. It was unexpected that someone would use such a costly amount of perfume to clean someone’s feet. It was unexpected (at least to those in attendance) that Jesus would dampen the mood of the feast and gift by talking about his death. And it was unexpected that he would engage in an argument over dinner with one of his disciples.
But what was perhaps most unexpected is that Jesus is anointed by Mary. As Eliseo Pérez-Álvares points out, it is usually men who anoint men. Samuel anointing Saul to be Israel’s first king. Male Popes anointing male emperors throughout western history, and so on. But here, Mary lets down her hair – with all the cultural connotations of that expression – and anoints Jesus.
All of which reminds me that God is often up to unexpected things with, for, and through unexpected people. People expected the messiah to look like King David; what they got instead was a former carpenter and itinerant preacher. The crowds who welcome Jesus a few verses after these expected Jesus to throw out the Romans; instead he is crucified by them. Even his followers expect his crucifixion to be the end of the story; it turns out to be just the beginning.
And of course this isn’t the half of it. Sarah wasn’t expected to have children, let alone found a dynasty. Moses wasn’t expected to lead the Israelites to freedom. Miriam wasn’t expected to be the prophetess of Israel teaching her people to sing of God’s victory over the Egyptians. The ruddy-faced shepherd boy David wasn’t supposed to be king. And on and on and on.
God regularly loves to do the unexpected with, for, and through unexpected people. And the culmination of Lent and celebration of Easter are the highlight of the work and activity of this unexpected God, as death is assumed to have the last word, until Jesus is raised from the dead.
Where might God be at work in unexpected ways in our community? Through the half-defunct youth group that everyone worries about but which gave sanctuary and friendship to the down and out kid on the brink of suicide? Through the aging “ladies circle” that worries about their inability to attract a younger generation but which continues to provide quilts to Lutheran World Relief that make such a difference in the lives of people half a world away? Through the church’s decision to rent its space to a local homeless program, a decision they embraced out of economic need but have been surprised and delighted by as they see their space become a place of safety and comfort for folks living on the edge?
So perhaps this Sunday, we might go out looking for traces of the predictably unexpected God, the One who shows up where we least expect God to be, and always for good.
David Lose, President of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Penn, USA