Isaiah 43:16-21. The God who has saved Israel in the past invites God’s people to believe that a new salvation is coming for them in their exile.
Psalm 126. A psalm celebrating the return of exiles to Jerusalem, and asking for God’s grace as they seek to rebuild their lives and their homeland.
Philippians 3:3-14. Paul, who has every reason to trust in his goodness under the law, ex-plains why he chooses rather to trust in Christ for his righteousness, and how he commits to continually striving to reach the reward that is promised in Christ.
John 12:1-8. In Bethany, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. Judas, however is unimpressed.
Rev Tania writes.
Lent moves toward its conclusion, and this week, offers us a surprising invitation—in a rather startling turn, right before Jesus’ enters his period of suffering, the Lenten readings move us to a place of joy and celebration.
Isaiah promises the exiles a new salvation of God; the psalm celebrates this salvation as it is realised; Paul celebrates the righteousness he has found in Christ, which far surpasses the value of the “goodness” he enjoyed under the law; and Mary celebrates Jesus and her extravagant love for him through this almost embarrassing public display.
This can be quite shocking in the midst of the discipline and confession that usually characterises the Lenten period. But, the message is clear – the journey through the desert is a journey toward life and joy, for it leads us to recognise, and own for ourselves, the truth that Christ brings us salvation – life in all its fullness.
Mary, Paul and the people of Israel all received this gift with tremendous joy, and wild expressions of love. This passionate worship of the Saviour, is a challenge to us to allow our faith to be not just of the head, but of the heart, and not just of the way of justice, judgement or righteousness, but also of the way of joy, celebration and appreciation. And, although Jesus proclaims Mary’s act as a preparation for his burial – with the shadow of the cross looming over this scene – the promise of God’s life, and the demonstration that neither evil nor death can extinguish the love of Christ, give cause for celebration even as we prepare to remember the sacrifice.
Prayerfully, Rev Tania.