The reading for this sermon comes from the Gospel of Mark, 14:3-9:
While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head.
But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her.
But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”
Do you know the story of Babette’s Feast?
It’s a strange story, very beautiful, by the Danish writer Isak Dinesen.
Two sisters live in a small town in rural Norway
in the latter years of the 19th century.
They are the daughters of a clergyman, the founder of a small sect
whose members, we are told,
renounced the pleasures of this world, for the earth and all that it held to them was but a kind of illusion, and the true reality was the New Jerusalem toward which they were longing.
For many years the sisters have devoted their lives
to caring for their neighbors in need.
They dress in somber gray or black.
Their food is plain fish and plain bread.
Every penny they can spare, they give to the poor.
For many years it has been so. Continue reading