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  • Writer's pictureAllison Wilcox

Holy Week: Anointing

It was two days before the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”


While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish, but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”


Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. ~ Mark 14:1-11



One of the parts of worship that I hold most dear is when we do Anointing/Laying on of hands.


We don't do it every service - just a few times a year - but I am so grateful when we do.


There is something about it: the smell of the ointment, the touch, the prayer, the blessing...


It is a moment of intimacy between two of Christ's followers: a moment where it always feels to me that God is breaking through.


At first hearing, we might be like the disciples: why are we spending so much money on what seems to be such a frivolous thing? (not that our anointing oil at Grace is expensive).


Why aren't we giving the money to the poor?


Jesus reply turns this back on them: in essence - Why don't YOU give money to the poor?


Why don't you take care of the poor?


Nothing is stopping you.


But don't condemn this woman for using what is hers to bless me. Don't condemn the woman who showed me love and care in an intimate and loving way.


Don't condemn her for anointing me and preparing me for my burial.


We must go through that before we can get to resurrection.


In every anointing I am reminded of my mortality and the mortality of the person I am anointing. It is like Ash Wednesday for me in that way.


But I am also reminded of how closely we are connected to each other and to the one who connects us.



Lord, help me not to forget the poor and help me to love others as deeply and intimately as you love me. Amen

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