|Pen and Ink Reflections||
How do you feel about anointing? I’m talking full on anointing here. I don’t just mean anointing as a metaphor, nor the very reserved forms of anointing which can take place in many churches. I mean oil poured out profusely: all over the head, body, and feet. I mean total divine sensate massage and aromatherapy: exquisite sensation, overpowering perfume, near sensory overload. Ever tried it? The Orthodox Church typically anoints someone all over at baptism - I kind of like that. It reminds us that, to be a Christian, is about being soaked in the Holy Spirit, exuberantly alive with fabulous sensation and fresh nurturing life. That, certainly, is at the heart of the Gospel story we hear today: an amazingly radical story, on so many levels, which models, and invites us to become more fully the beloved community of vivacious, scandalous, love…
When I was a child I was a member of the Tufty Club. Quite possibly I still am. I’m not sure the membership ever really lapses. Certainly almost every child of my generation in the UK was encouraged to be a member. For Tufty (or Tufty Fluffytail to give him his full name) was the brainchild of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. He was, and still is, a squirrel created to tell stories and messages and be the emblem for the road safety of children. So all kinds of merchandise has been produced around Tufty, including films, games, and badges. At one stage there were indeed as many as 24 500 registered Tufty Clubs in the UK, mostly based in schools. All of which was great fun as well as learning for children, not least red-headed children like me who loved Tufty’s life, colour and native character. Sadly, the native European red squirrel is today under serious threat of extinction in the UK, due to the advance of the larger, aggressive, North American grey squirrels and the continuing loss o habitats. Yet Tufty’s message – to ‘stop, look and listen’ – lives us on today. For it is good advice not only for children and road safety, but also for all our lives and spiritual journeys. It is indeed close to the heart of today’s Gospel story and Jesus’ own words for Martha and Mary…
Lent 5A, Sunday 6 April 2014 (John 11:1-45) by Penny Jones
"When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved."
We are missing something in this translation. The New English Bible is probably closest to the original Greek in offering, "Jesus was moved with indignation and greatly distressed" but it still does not convey the full impact of the original. Two words describe Jesus's emotional engagement
when he sees the weeping of Mary and the crowd of official Jewish mourners who surround her. The first means literally 'to be moved with anger', or 'to admonish sternly', and also to 'snort like a horse'. Mark's gospel uses the same word in the story of the woman who anoints Jesus, to describe the reaction of hue he disciples to her wastefulness - 'they scolded her, or admonished her sternly'. We tend to assume that confronted by the outward display of grief by Mary, Martha and the crowd,
Jesus empathises and joins in with their behaviour. But in fact the Greek is saying something else. It is saying that his responses included indignation and perplexity. For the second word - ταρασσω - translated in our version as 'greatly moved' means to 'stir up' (like the waters of the pool of
Bethsaida ) and in the case of a person to be churned up, troubled or perplexed.
So why is Jesus indignant - even angry - and perplexed? ...
sermons and reflections from Penny Jones & Jo Inkpin,