North Texas Conference Cabinet Holy Week Devotional For Monday
“In the Midst of Threat” by Rev. Cammy Gaston
Focus: “Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of nard, anointed Jesus feet, and wiped his feet with her hair.”
My friend Kathleen had always been a champion for the poor. She opened her home to women who needed shelter. She had a vibrant ministry of empowerment for young disadvantaged teens. She picked up the literal pieces of a communion cup following a fight that broke out in her church one Sunday morning over the tension caused by poverty and desperation. She knew the needs of the poor!
At 50, Kathleen found herself facing the threat of death from liver cancer. She went through treatments. She continued to teach, preach, baptize and offer general pastoral care for people around her. She truly witnessed to the love and grace of God as the cancer whittled away her body.
During the last week of her life, she invited our covenant group and spouses to gather at her home for a feast. It was an over-the-top feast! Lobster was flown in fresh from the coast of Maine. Lovely side dishes laid out on the table like a banquet. Kathleen was so sick that she couldn’t even eat it, but she insisted that we all gather around the table for this extravagant meal as we told stories of fun places we had been to together and highlight moments of our covenant group retreats.
Partaking in that extravagant feast felt both odd and absolutely the right thing to be doing at the same time. We sat in the uncomfortable threat of eminent death as we celebrated God and honored her life.
I am convinced that the extravagant experience of Mary taking a pound of costly perfume made of nard and anointing Jesus’ feet both felt odd and absolutely right at the same time. Martha, Mary, Lazarus and certainly some of the disciples gathered in the face of Jesus’ threatened death and communed in a meal and gift giving. It was their extravagant offering to Jesus and his gift of accepting it that created a sacred moment.
All too often we miss sacred extravagant moments because we feel threatened by life’s circumstances. To state the obvious, that threat is right now! We can simply hide out, pace around nervously, try to run from it … or we can choose to extravagantly love someone (or a group of people) out of our deep devotion and faithfulness to God.
That is why we gathered for an agape meal last week with our Bishop. In extraordinary times, it is important to commune – even in virtual Zoom boxes. As I scrolled through the pages and took note of every box, I saw families, couples and singles at the table. We were all honoring God and God’s faithfulness that is extravagant. Thanks be to God!
Question for Reflection
- When have you shared in a poignant, meaningful moment of faithfulness in the midst of threat?
May we pause and experience your grace and abounding care no matter the threat of life’s circumstances. Thank you for giving and giving and giving again. May you receive our gift of devotion to you.
Rev. Cammy Gaston is director of the Center for Leadership Development.
Published: Monday, April 6, 2020