Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 15, 2013

A positive minute: Giving your best

Dr. Michael Layne
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — John 12:1-8: “Six days before Passover Jesus went back to Bethany, where he had raised Lazarus from death. 2 A meal had been prepared for Jesus. Martha was doing the serving, and Lazarus himself was there.  

3 Mary took a very expensive bottle of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet. She wiped them with her hair, and the sweet smell of the perfume filled the house.  

4 A disciple named Judas Iscariot was there. He was the one who was going to betray Jesus, and he asked, 5’Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?’ 6Judas did not really care about the poor. He asked this because he carried the moneybag and sometimes would steal from it.  

7 Jesus replied, ‘Leave her alone! She has kept this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me.’”

One of the things we can do during Lent is to survey our thinking about giving to the Lord.

I know that anytime we talk about or, give a homily about “giving” we know that some seem to cringe at the thought of sitting through another message about their resources and the importance of giving to God.

How do we give to the Lord? One of the ways in which we give, most certainly, is through our giving of money. We give to God through the church most often. Let’s face it; if we are a part of a local church it takes all of us working together to keep the doors of the church open so that, hopefully, we will be viable ministries in our communities.

As we see in this week’s Gospel reading, Mary is giving her best to our Lord. She pours the best and most expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet. Ever wondered about the reason for people in that time to pay attention to foot washing before a meal?  When they met for dinner they were not sitting upright in a chair as we usually do today but, were in a reclining position and the feet would be close to their neighbor. I think we get the picture of why clean feet were important for enjoying the meal.

Of course there is Judas who would betray the Lord. He was clear about his mindset and did not care for the idea of using this expensive perfume to clean feet. His words saying the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor was really an empty statement as he really didn’t care about the poor. This would have been an opportunity to fill the coffer with more money so he could steal from the account.

Jesus made it clear that the poor would always be around, but He would not always be with them. In our world today we find that we have the poor with us. We know that ministries like the Agape Center here in Greensburg are so important to assist those in our community who are struggling. Have you found yourself saying or, thinking, “The people who come for assistance never get ahead and always need more?”

Well, there are a lot of people who, for whatever reason, continue to struggle and are always in need. During this season of Lent, try to practice thinking differently about those who are in need and give a little extra in whatever way you can because our Lord said, “You will always have the poor with you.”

Once again, Lent is a great time to change our thinking, actions and our response to life so that we may live in the fullness of His grace and love. This week select a group that serves the “poor” — world hunger, the homeless, abused persons, and such. Make a gift substantial enough to cause you some hurt. See what happens. Give the Lord an opportunity to open up the windows of Heaven and pour out upon you His blessings. As the old spiritual tune says, “You can’t beat God giving, no matter how hard you try.”

Not: You are invited to a special Maundy Thursday Service at 6:30 p.m. March 28, at The Fine Grind, 120 E. Washington St, Greensburg with Bishop Layne.

The Most Rev, Michael Layne is a Bishop in the Lutheran Orthodox Church and can be reached at 812-614-2160 or doclayne@yahoo.com.