Lent

Holy Week Wednesday: Giving Up Half-Hearted Worship

The first few days of Holy Week were busy for Jesus… the giant Parade on Sunday, lots of teaching and going in and out of the city, and more.  Wednesday seems to slow down a bit and you can tell as Jesus’ time on earth draws to a close, He is drawing close to those He cares most about. As He is about to go “all-in” for his disciples (and for US!!!) we see one of His followers express her “all-in” devotion and worship.  Here’s the story:

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table.  And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?  For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.”  But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me.  For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.  In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.  Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:6-13)

Mary was ALL IN here.  As I looked up synonyms of that phrase some suggested included: drained out, spent, emptied.  Seems a pretty fitting word.  Another synonym caught might eye: wasted.  That’s all the disciples saw.  How could she waste this?  It’s easy for us right now to quickly read through this account and clearly see what a beautiful thing she was doing, but when we take a step back I’m guessing most of us can understand where the disciples are coming from.  Other gospels tell us that the cost of this perfume was likely at least a year’s wages.  That makes me take a step back. Would I be willing to even buy something that cost me a whole year’s worth of paychecks let alone just give it away… literally pour it out on someone’s head and feet?

In today’s world, that would be a car … (probably a really nice one)… a decent down payment on a house, and a whole lot more.  It starts to make sense from our earthly point of view why the disciples thought there might be a better use for it.  Yet Jesus scolds the disciples not the woman.  No… this gift wasn’t wasted at all.  And as Jesus promised, her gift is still talked about to this very day.

Mary’s gift is a great reminder for me to be ALL IN… to not hold back in my worship even when it seems extravagant or even wasteful.  There’s a challenge to be present in worship as we gather throughout this week but also to worship with my life… to do the things that others see as a little crazy… to give more of my time when the justification to care more for myself is great… to do whatever it takes to get to the end of each day, each week, each year, and the end of my life and be gloriously spent for God’s glory.

Claude Bissell seems to have summarized it well:

“Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.”

And I might add: all to the glory of Jesus.  Let’s give up half-hearted worship these last days of Lent and be ALL IN!

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College Ministry

God on the Move

It seems like everywhere I turn lately it is obvious that God is on the move and it is SO exciting to see.

One of the places I witnessed him this past week was at Lutheran Campus Ministries (LCM) of WNY (also known as Organic Campus).  First Trinity had the opportunity to partner with this great community by making and serving the meal for the college students before their monthly worship experience.  Eight First Trinity members were involved in some way in making the dinner happen (not counting the many of you that I’m sure were praying!).   As I left that night, the college students I was talking to were not only thankful for the meal we provided but also the conversation that took place with the First Trinity members.  Two FT young adults and I stuck around for worship after the meal and were blessed by the experience.

Some of the other ways I witnessed God on the move were mentioned in a thank you letter we received from Steve, the LCM Pastor, this week.  Please read the letter below and pray that God would continue to work through this ministry, and First Trinity’s partnership with them, in amazing ways!

 

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2 February 2012

Dear Friends at First Trinity,

Thank you to Bekah, her crew and all of you at First Trinity for the fantastic dinner last night.  We had 23 people and then 19 for worship.  The focus of worship was on God still creating in our lives today.  Part of the sermon experience was for groups to get together and create a painting of their vision of who God is.  All four of those pieces of worship art are hanging in The House and are each wonderful in their own way!

 

But better than that were the interactions from the Peer Ministers.  I watched Katie welcome every single person that walked through the door and engage them in the type of radical hospitality that Jesus modeled… really asking how people were doing.

 

I watched Nick bring a friend that he met at work three days before and as she broke into tears telling him about a long term relationship break up.  He got her dinner and just sat with her in her tears in the back room so she wouldn’t have to go out with everyone else crying or sit in the back room alone.

 

I watched Jeremiah skip coming up to Communion so he could stay with a new girl that wasn’t comfortable with Communion because she had never seen it before. And he explained what it was and why we celebrate it. (Side note from Bekah not in the letter from Steve: I was in the group next to their table and I think my favorite moment of the night was hearing him explain it and then all of the others at the table sharing the personal significance it had in their own lives.)

 

I watched Mary Grace sing with the most incredible and haunting voice a version of Holy, Holy, Holy that opened up the concept of the Trinity that young adults could hang on to.

 

It was awesome… but not because the room was completely full… instead, because God was very easy to see!

 

Still in One Peace,

Steve