Friday, March 29th
Lavish: to expend or bestow with profusion; squander
Psalm 96 (NRSV)
Worship the Lord in holy splendor;
tremble before him, all the earth.
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The Lord is king!”
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
John 12:3 (NRSV)
Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
We sometimes hear about the praises and accolades that are being “lavished” on actors, authors, talk-show hosts, athletes, heroes, musicians and others who have done well and are receiving all sorts of recognition. In these situations the word, lavish is used to convey that these praises are perhaps overdone or are being squandered on someone who is undeserving. The accolades feel too excessive or insincere.
I wonder if Judas was feeling this way when Mary was lavish in her act of adoration of Jesus. Judas felt the money spent on the perfume could have been spent on other worthy causes. At that point he also had no way of knowing who Jesus truly was (since Jesus’ death and resurrection was yet to happen). Perhaps Judas had even a bit of jealousy there, as we might envy some of these rising stars today. To Judas, Mary’s act was too lavish, too extravagant.
But now we know we could never be lavish enough in our praise to God- for Jesus and for all God has done for us.
Each of us might lavish praise to God with our entire beings- voice uplifted, singing, shouting with everything we have! Still, each of us is only one person among many others who are also praising God- God, who is the Creator of us all. Everyone on earth might lavish glorious praises upon God, and yet we are only one tiny planet in a vast and infinite universe- the universe God also created. ALL of creation might adore God and worship God in unique ways- singing birds, clapping trees, rushing winds, blooming flowers, rising mountains, splashing fish, glowing moon, twinkling stars… and yet God is Creator of all these as well!
Our most lavish praise is a tiny morsel to the awesomeness of God- but the awesomeness of God impels us to offer our praises as lavishly as we can. We cannot help ourselves!
Though our mouths were full of song as the sea,
and our tongues of exultation as the multitude of its waves,
and our lips of praise as the wide-extended firmament;
though our eyes shone with light like the sun and the moon,
and our hands were spread forth like the eagles of heaven,
and our feet were swift as hinds,
we should still be unable to thank thee and bless thy name,
O Lord our God and God of our fathers,
for one thousandth or one ten thousandth part of the bounties which thou has bestowed upon our fathers and upon us.
– from the Hebrew Prayer Book
All definitions are excerpted from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/
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