Morning anointing

On Thursday I was working on the message about John 12 when Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with a costly perfume. Jesus said she was anointing him for his burial in a few days. I was impressed with how her action encouraged Jesus for his journey to the cross that week. Guessing how so many at St. Paul are having difficult, thorny times at work, I thought: Wouldn’t it be good, as people are leaving, to anoint them with oil for the work God has given them to do? It would be a way to encourage them in the week’s tasks ahead. It was by no means an original idea. I had been at a conference once for Lutheran musicians where at closing worship our hands were anointed with the sign of the cross for the work we were going back to. That’s what I would do.

A lot happens between writing a draft of the sermon on Thursday and what comes out Sunday morning. Editing. Re-thinking. Hopefully praying. Yes, and second guessing. By Saturday night I had decided that anointing people’s hands was way too weird and I wouldn’t do it. But this morning when I read the bulletin, there it was in bold print after the benediction: Anointing for the week’s work in the narthex! I forgot I had told Katie (our office administrator)about the plan, and now I was stuck. God has a sense of humor and more in mind than I knew, because many of you came. With a cross of fragrant oil, you wanted to hear encouragement that God could use you in those hard places this week. But I was the one encouraged as some of you took the time to tell me of the particular struggles you are facing at work and the ways you are hoping God might be using you. I have learned much from you today and am profoundly grateful for your courageous daily walks of faith…Thank you for teaching me, and I am glad God didn’t let me get away with the second guessing. And blessings on all of you out in the thorny marketplace this week.