The minister was preaching from Luke where the woman comes into the Pharisee's house and annoints Jesus' feet with perfume. It was a baptism, so she was talking about how the pouring out of the water reflected the extravagant pouring out of the woman's love for Jesus. Just as she poured out her love for Jesus so God's love is poured out over us in baptism.
But before the sermon she said to her friend. "They said about Jesus, 'If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.' And they say about me, 'If she were a real minister, she wouldn't bring these people we will never see again into our church, and let them be baptised.'"
In Luke 7:36 we see that "one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him-that she is a sinner.""
So often churches want just to have nice people. They hire the minister for themselves, not for ministry to the world around them. And ministers who attract people who are not "nice" are a problem, a nuisance, and have their priorities wrong. Don't let people come in all the time and get their children baptised. They don't understand what they are doing. They don't appreciate it. They are using the church!
Are they? Jesus spoke to the Pharisee "and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Teacher," he replied, "Speak."
"A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?"
Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly.""
"Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."
Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace.""
Can we do less? Or have we simply forgotten how much we have been given?
Direct Biblical quotations in this page are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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