Worshiping Like Mary

Victorine praying — commitment service at Tiepogovogo
(John 12:1-8)

If I were to honor you
like Mary did that week
before you died, what could I do?
My worship seems so paltry.

Mary, the disciple who
had sat at your feet, learning,
brought expensive perfume –
worth a whole year’s wages—
and humbly rubbed it on your feet,
that sacred space for her.
She anointed the Anointed One!

The aroma filled the room
like an offering of incense,
worship made tangible
for those who were sentient,
prayerful reminder of 
the Presence in the Holy Place. 
Perfume also drenched the cloths
wrapping a corpse for burial.
Had she heard him share
that he would soon die,
giving his own life to save his sheep?

Her offering was sacrifice
to honor the one who would be
the ultimate sacrifice, the one
whose death would rip open
the curtain that separated
the incense altar 
from the Most Holy Place. 
Mary’s hair wiped the ointment
from his feet as she knelt,
the perfume of her prayer
now with her wherever she went.

I have no such costly perfume, 
just the incense of my heart
when the words of my prayer
rise to the skies, gratitude
for your self-sacrificing love
swirling out in hesitant speech
and growing into song.

My white hair can testify
that you are faithful.
It can spread the aroma
of who you are to those
who understand the scent,
the truth that knowing you
has changed me, made me
your disciple, your sent one, 
more and more like you. 

Like Mary, I will kneel and pour out
my love and thanks in worship.
Like Mary, I need to honor you
by offering what I have, all for you.

Mary was a woman who could not let go of an opportunity to be close to Jesus. Her yearning to learn put her in the posture of a disciple, at the feet of the Master. In the past, she had listened. Somehow his teaching, and the concurrence of events like Jesus’ raising her own brother from the dead, had made her desperate to show him that she knew he was God’s Chosen Servant whose climactic hour had come. So she took that expensive perfumed ointment that she owned and proclaimed his anointed status, not by pouring it on his head as was customary, but by washing his feet with it – a humble servant stance. Wiping the ointment on his feet with her hair strikes me as an intimate offering of herself in that act of worship.

Would I have had the audacity to act out my devotion so humbly in that public space?

Mary’s humble, loving worship in advance of the once-for-all sacrifice of our Savior can inspire us, we who live in the informed time following the resurrection, to offer what we have. “All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give . . .”1 And if we do this in a worshipful way, spending time with him and getting to know him intimately, the aroma of who he is will flow out from us to fill the room, the space we inhabit. We can be proclaimers too!

But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. (2 Cor. 2:14 CSB)

1 Judson W. Van de Venter (1855-1939)

Published by Linnea Boese

After spending most of my life in Africa, as the child of missionaries then in missions with my husband, I am now retired and free to use my time to write! I am working on publishing poetry and on writing an autobiography. There have been many adventures, challenges and wonderful blessings along the way -- lots to share!

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