Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Easter 5, Year C May 19, 2019 Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C John 13:31-35
Easter 4, Year C May 12, 2019 Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C Psalm 23; John 10:22-30
Easter 3, Year C May 5, 2019 Third Sunday of Easter, Year C John 21:1-19
Easter 2, Year C April 28, 2019 Easter 2, Year 2 John 20:19-31
Easter Sunday, 2019 April 21, 2019 Easter Sunday John 20:1-18
Good Friday, 2019 April 19, 2019 Good Friday John 18:1-19:42
Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019 April 18, 2019 Maundy Thursday John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Palm Sunday, Year C April 14, 2019 Palm Sunday, Year C Luke 23:26
Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C April 7, 2019 Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C John 12:1-8
Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C March 31, 2019 Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C 2019 Joshua 5:9-12;Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Third Sunday in Lent, Year C March 24, 2019 Third Sunday in Lent, Year C Luke 13:1-9
Second Sunday in Lent, Year C March 17, 2019 Second Sunday in Lent, Year C Luke 13:31-35,Philippians 3:17-4:1
First Sunday in Lent, Year C March 10, 2019 First Sunday in Lent, Year C Luke 4:1-13
Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019 March 6, 2019 Ash Wednesday Isaiah 58:1-12
Last Epiphany, March 3, 2019 – Rev. Mark Jefferson March 3, 2019 Last Epiphany, Year C Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]

 

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C

Sermon Date:April 7, 2019

Scripture: John 12:1-8

Liturgy Calendar: Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C


“Jesus in the House of Mary and Martha” – Vermeer (1655)


“There they gave a dinner for him.” 

Jesus has come to see Mary and Martha and Lazarus. 

And this family is thrilled to have Jesus with them—their friend who raised Lazarus from the dead and made their family whole again.

Jesus has taken their family circle, broken by the death of Lazarus, and has made it once more complete and unbroken by bringing Lazarus back to life. 

So Mary and Martha and Lazarus give a dinner for Jesus because they are so thankful for him and for what he has done for them.

They want to celebrate his return to their house and his presence with them.      

As usual, Martha serves, and Lazarus is sitting in his accustomed place at the table with Jesus.   

And in this familiar setting around the table, with friends, Mary—so thrilled that Jesus is with them at their table– takes a pound of pure nard, imported all the way from the Himalayas, pours the perfume on the feet of Jesus, and wipes his feet with her hair. 

Even as they all breathe in the sweet exotic scent of this perfume, Judas Iscariot, the one who will betray Jesus, destroys the joy round that table by saying to Mary that she could have sold that perfume and given the money to the poor.

But Jesus comes to Mary’s defense and says to them all that Mary has bought the perfume so that she might keep it for the day of his burial.

Because they don’t know, but Jesus knows, that this is the last time that they will all be together, the last time he will sit around this table with his friends, that his death is imminent.

How horrifying this statement that Jesus makes must have been to this family celebrating what they believed was a return to normal—the four of them well and happy and together again, because Jesus has brought Lazarus back to life after four days in the tomb.    

When our Clericus met last Tuesday, Charles Joy, who is the priest at St Asaph’s, said that this passage reminded him that the only moment we have is the present moment, that we can never know when we go to sleep at night what the night will bring, or that when we wake up to a new day, what the day will bring. 

And he speaks from experience. 

Charles and his family were enjoying time together at the beach last summer—no one could have imagined on getting up that day that before the day ended, one of them would be dead of a heart attack, the only son of Charles and his wife, a young man who left behind his parents, his wife, and his young children. 

Nothing will ever be the same for that family again, because they can never return to what they knew as “normal” in their lives.

Many years ago now, soon after Brad had been hit by that van and was recovering, Doug Henderson, one of my friends and a wonderful organist, filled in for Brad.  He came and played for the Epiphany service. 

And then he played for us the following Sunday.  After church, Cookie and Johnny invited Ben and me and Doug to lunch at their house.  We gathered around their table and enjoyed our time together, never guessing that before the next Sunday came, Doug would be dead, and we would never be with Doug together again at worship or sharing a meal together.  

This dinner that Mary and Martha and Lazarus gave for Jesus does remind us, then, to treasure the present moment, to celebrate this moment, to be extravagant in our thanks to God for each and every moment that God grants us on this earth.

Today, and most Sundays, we have the privilege here on this day and in this hour to join round the table with Jesus, out of gratitude and thanksgiving for all that Jesus has done for us. 

When we come to this table in love, and take into ourselves the love of Jesus,

then we can go out and serve the world around us with love,

and we can share the love of Jesus with our families, with our neighbors, with those around us wherever we gather,    

with the same love that Martha had as she served the dinner for Jesus that evening in Bethany.

When we come to this table with thanksgiving, the thanksgiving that Lazarus must have felt toward Jesus for having been granted more time on this earth with his family, we can leave this place in thanksgiving for every moment of every day and the blessings both seen and unseen, all around us, all the time, and live thankful lives.    

And when we come to this table with the assurance of new life, with the gratitude that Mary had for Jesus, the Lord of Life, who had given new life to them all, the gratitude that Mary showed by extravagantly pouring that perfume on his feet,

When we come to the table in gratitude for this assurance of new life that Jesus gives to each one of us, then we can get up from this table and leave here to go out and  face the changes, both expected, and unexpected in our lives, assured that God will be with us, no matter what–

Knowing that God will be with us in our joys and in our sorrows, in our gains and in our losses, in our life, and in our death—

Living fearlessly with the assurance that God will bring us to our joyful resurrections, and that we will all gather in God’s heavenly banquet hall. 

We will gather around that heavenly banquet table with Jesus, around the table with everyone we have loved in this life, restored to us and we to them through the love of Jesus,the circle once more complete.