God is about to do a new thing - 5 Lent

5 Lent/Year C

April 7, 2019

Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8


Opening Prayer (based on Psalm 126) written by Rev. Penny L. Lowe
Holy God, the world in which we live is as terrifying as it is wonderful. 
We need Jesus as much today as in times of old. 
Many sow in tears, and go out weeping. 
Replenish our lands, fill our hearts with gladness, restore our faith in you and each other, wipe away the tears of despair. 
As we gather today, we tilt an ear to listen close. 
Let the voice of your angel fill our minds with new understandings. 
We are waiting for you. Speak to us today. Amen. 

Every time we pause to read or listen to the scriptures, we have an opportunity to learn something new. Every time we pause to sing together, we have an opportunity to hear something new. Every time we pause to pray with one another, we have an opportunity to feel something new. Every time we pause to gather here in church, we have an opportunity to rejoice in seeing old friends and making new friends. Every time we pause to share a meal together, we have an opportunity to smell and taste something new.

Every time, we choose to pause…we make room in our hearts and in our minds…to hear the Good News of God’s extravagant love being poured out for us…we make room in our hearts and in our minds to hear God speaking to us today:

Thus says, the Lord, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

We are one week away, from the beginning of Holy Week…Jesus’ final week, of his earthly life…a journey that will lead to his death on the cross of Good Friday….But that new thing, he has been teaching his followers and all those who have been listening….is about to spring forth…on the third day…hold on to that vision…hold on to that hope…

Jesus has not shied away from telling his listeners and followers that the day was drawing close for the time of his death…the time in which the scriptures will be fulfilled in their hearing….through his death and resurrection.

But no matter how many times he has tried to tell them that he would be leaving them, that they would not always have him with them… no matter how many miracles he performed, or no matter how many glorious signs he revealed to them that he is the one that they have been waiting for, the Messiah, the Savior of the world…many of his followers have still failed to grasp that this Savior, this Messiah, is about to endure a terrible death, he is about to sacrifice his own life, for the salvation of all God’s people…and set them free through the unconditional, sacrificial, extravagant love…that will be poured out for them and us, in the person of Jesus Christ….

This Savior, this Messiah, is about to do a new thing… hold on to that vision…hold on to that hope…

But, first…we must journey to the cross with him…we must face the truth of his death, so that we may rise with him, into a new life…

In today’s gospel reading…the truth of his impending death…seems to be drawing near…perhaps too close for some of those gathered for the dinner party.

Just think for a moment…it wasn’t too long ago, that we heard the story about Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus…all were grieving his death…people were coming to console Martha and Mary. We heard how deeply disturbed Jesus was from the news of Lazarus’ death and how He wept. We heard that Lazarus had been dead four days, so there was quite a stench. This story does end with good news with Jesus raising Lazarus to life again… unbinding him, and letting him go.

So…I can imagine….how uncomfortable the setting of this dinner party might have been…perhaps some of the emotions, and the smells associated with Lazarus’ death were still lingering in the air….

Here is Jesus, with some of the very same people, those he loved dearly, and those who loved him dearly, who just a short time ago, came face to face with death. Here, they are gathered together this evening… to face death, once again….Jesus’ death…just days away…

Only this time, not everyone is openly acknowledging that death is in the air. But, perhaps it’s Judas’ awareness that causes him to react as he did when Mary openly acknowledges Jesus’ impending death, by using a costly perfume made of pure nard, an oil used for the burial of the dead, to anoint Jesus’ feet and wipe them with her hair. And I can only imagine, that perhaps as everyone watched how Judas reacted to Mary’s lavish outpouring of love….that they too…might have been stirred up , even for a brief moment…wondering….is the smell of death in the air?

Mary went where no-one else was ready to go, yet. She allowed herself to draw intimately close to death’s door. She boldly stepped forward, to offer her extravagant gift of love…to acknowledge Jesus, perhaps thank Jesus, perhaps honor Jesus, perhaps assure him that her love will go with him to the cross and beyond, and perhaps she turned her face once again towards Jesus, to affirm….that yes….she loves him…yes…she believes in him…yes…she will trust in him…and yes…she will dare to continue to hope in him …

She puts aside any doubts or worries or fears about Jesus’ death and she boldly offers her gift of extravagant love, at his feet…the feet that will journey to the cross and bear the weight of the world’s sins….

This Savior, this Messiah, is about to do a new thing… hold on to that vision…hold on to that hope…

From the moment Mary opened the door to welcome Jesus into to the home for the dinner party…she noticed something….

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, by Joanna Weaver – (Pg 156, Mary’s extravagant love) 

He looks so tired. The face she loves is lined and drawn as she meets him at the door. His forehead is troubled, but when he sees her, the Master’s eyes soften. He makes his way through the crowded foyer and takes her hands.


“I’m glad you’re here, Lord” she says. “It’s been too long.” His travels have taken him away from Jerusalem lately, Away from the temple courts. Away from the rumored price upon his head.

“I worry for you,” Mary whispers.

Jesus smiles and slowly shakes his head. “Be anxious for nothing, dear Mary. My life is in the Father’s hands.” His words are tender, yet intense; as though they hold hidden truth. A shiver runs down her spine as they walk toward the living room.

It’s clear this visit will be nothing like the one so many months ago. Something is wrong. And yet, somehow, Mary senses something so right. It goes against logic. She can see their Master’s weariness. The men are clearly worried and befuddled. And yet Mary feels a tremor within, like a single strum upon a stringed instrument. Like hope…or is it joy?

There is no sound, only an awaiting. As though all of heaven is standing on tiptoe listening for the song. As if all of eternity has been gathering momentum for this week…for this journey…for this Man…

This Man, Jesus Christ… is about to do a new thing… hold on to that vision…hold on to that hope…

I believe Mary was able to catch a glimpse of that vision and that hope, which enabled her to boldly step forward…She had spent much time throughout her life, pausing to just be with Jesus…learning from him, being assured by him, loving him…her heart was drawn closer to him, day after day….

May we be inspired by her example…taking time to pause to be in the presence of Christ…so that our hearts may draw closer and closer to him….so that even in times of our lives when the world feels as terrifying as it feels wonderful…we can hold on to the vision and the hope…that God is about to do a new thing!


Voices Found - #94 In boldness, look to God

4          In boldness, love, nor count the cost.

            Confront the world’s harsh stare:

            like one who washed the feet of Christ,

            and wiped them with her hair,

            poured perfume to anoint her Lord,

            and left love’s fragrance there.



Rev. Julie Platson, Rector

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska