LUKE 7:36 – 8:3
Our celebration of Easter was one of the most joyful experiences I have had on an Easter Sunday. Now, as I shared in my sermon last Sunday, we are in ordinary time, day to day living. Most of our days are lived in ordinary time.
One of my favorite biblical stories is Jesus being invited to the home of Simon the Pharisee. Simon believed in what his religion taught, even when it was hard for him to believe it. Simon followed the rules, even when the rules were hard to follow.
Into Simon’s house comes a woman who Luke says is a sinner, but he never says why. All we know is that her life was such that everyone in the community considered her to be a sinner. One assumption is she may have been a prostitute; maybe. There are a lot of ways to be considered a sinner, not all of them sexual. Maybe she had cooked the books, maybe she had stolen, maybe she was addicted to something, maybe she was mentally ill. We don’t know.
She brought with her a jar of ointment. Ointment that would be used to perfume a body during the time between the person’s death and his burial; it was very expensive. People would buy a teaspoon at a time whenever they had money left over, and they would keep it hoping there would be enough to take care of their bodies after they died.
This perfume became a person’s saving account. If things got really tight, they could sell a quarter teaspoon to someone to help them make it through the week or the month. This woman brought her life savings in an alabaster jar, and clearly brought it meaning to anoint Jesus.
Simon the United Methodist raised his eyebrows. Jesus says to Simon: When I came to your house, you did not wash my feet. You did not greet me with a kiss. This woman knows what she has received from God. She has washed my feet, wiped them with her hair, and she has not stopped kissing my feet since she has come here. This woman knows that because she has been forgiven much, she is loved much.
Stewardship is a kiss. It is not a duty or obligation that we do because the church needs money. This is a message that I try to convey not only in the fall but throughout the year. I do this because giving is a spiritual discipline. Stewardship of the earth is a kiss. Stewardship of our national heritage is a gift. Stewardship of Oak Cliff is a kiss. Stewardship of our family is a gift. Stewardship of our time, talent, gifts, service, and witness is a kiss.
We give as a kiss, an act of love. We give out of love because God has first loved us. Some people give to the church out of duty and responsibility. They give to the church because the church needs money in order to do its ministry and mission. However, I hope that is not the reason you give.
We give out of a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the presence of God in our lives. We give because we love God. Stewardship isn’t about the church’s need to get. It is my conviction that in order to be whole we need to give. Giving is a kiss, an act of love that draws us closer to God.
We are in very different places in our financial lives these days. The importance of your gift is not the amount, but the importance of it is the expression of your gratitude to God. There are many ways to kiss God. This is one.