This space has its roots in the history of how this congregation came to be - a group of Jesus followers inviting others to come and see Christ and live faith out together. Once a month, we will bring forth a devotional from years gone by. Today we re-member (put together again in our minds) from twenty-eight years ago in the Lenten Devotional of 1989 - March 19th to be precise.
Several years ago, my brother-in-law purchased a new car, a Buick Opel station wagon. He took extraordinary care of the car, keeping it clean and immaculate. He often remarked that rust was the big enemy of automotive value.
The time came to trade it in. He expected to get top dollar from the dealer. He didn't. The reason was that even though the surface paint was still show-room new, Hoosier road salt had eaten through the frame.
This reminds me of the disciple who chastized Mary Magdeline for her extravagance when she annointed Jesus with expensive perfume. As middle class Christians we put a lot of faith in being practical, like my brother-in-law. We hold meetings, set agendas, plan budgets, raise funds, delegate tasks. Like the disciple, we look for the best application of our resources. We apply the cautions of our middle class backgrounds to our faith.
"We can sell the perfume and give the money to the poor." And Jesus replied to the disciples, "The poor will be with you always, but I will be with you only a short while."
This frightens us for two reasons. We are frightened to look beyond our cautionary practicallity and see that the size of our effort won't put a dent in the problem. The poor (and the sick, the mentally ill, the lonely, the unloveable) WILL always be among us.
The secret Jesus lets us in on is that when we are doing good for others, we do have Jesus with us.
P.S. The other reason is that we are afraid that someday Jesus won't be there. We think we want something besides our faith to fall back on.