The Why of Waste in Worship

Peace Connections

anointing-his-feet-2“What is the point of this extravagant waste of perfume?”

As a people concerned about the poor, we are ever watchful to issues of stewardship.  In our personal finances we are careful not to overindulge in material things, not merely because we elevate simplicity for its aesthetic value but because we choose instead to redistribute our wealth to causes which care for and empower the poor.  We challenge our parishes when too much attention is given to carpets, pipe organs, and jewel encrusted chalices.  We live by Mother Elizabeth Seton’s words, “The rich must live more simply, so that the poor may simply live.”  And yet as if to contradict our fundamental principle comes this story of extravagance and waste.

A woman, we don’t know her name, comes to Jesus.  A wealthy woman, dressed in the finest silks, she carries with her a beautiful, ornate vase.  Kneeling before Jesus, she…

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The Good Deeds of Salvation

Peace Connections

Ephesians2-10“We are created in Christ Jesus to lead the life of good deeds which God prepared for us in advance.”

There is a hermeneutic principle which says that scripture interprets scripture.  These passages beautifully demonstrate this principle and reveal the message found within each.  The basic message of Chronicles, Ephesians, and John is that salvation is a gift that can not be merited; none-the-less we are called to good deeds.  This simple message is illustrated by the story of Israel as recorded in Chronicles.

The prophets had often warned Israel against practicing the abominations of other nations.  Immediately we think in terms of apparent moral evil but in fact these were religious practices tied to temple worship.  Good deeds we might say.  But for Yahweh’s covenant people, they were abominations because they instilled within the people the false concept that God was unwilling to bless his people.  They promoted the…

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