Last night we had a helpful and moving sermon about the woman who anointed Jesus feet, a story told by Dr Luke in his record of Jesus life (Luke 7:36-50) It is one of my favourite stories of Jesus, and her story of bravery, with her present day equivalent, found its way into one of the chapters of the book I wrote last year.

She is known as the sinful woman, but to me she is so much more. Her meeting Jesus (we don’t know how or when) has transformed her. So much so, she risks ridicule, exposure and hostility because she wants to simply to lavish her love on Jesus. He has seen her – really seen her. Not just the outside she presented to the world, not just her behaviour, but the broken, needy child inside, and wrapped her in healing love and acceptance. He has forgiven all the past, the mess and muddle with its complex causes and shown her that however deep the pit you are in, he can bring hope and light.

We are so rarely seen, really. We bump into each other, looking at the outside and seldom taking the time to really look. When we do, it is not always with the love and acceptance we are called, if we seek to follow Jesus, to gift others. Sometimes that is because we fear to look inside ourselves for what we might see there. Yet even our brokenness can be enveloped in God’s love and become beautiful, as this remarkable woman discovered. His gaze is always tender.

I often wonder, between my admiration of her unfettered worship, what the others there made of it all, apart from the censorious Simon. There would have been serving girls at this feast, and this poem expresses what one of them might have thought, watching on from the sidelines…

As I entered,

Carrying the feast

I could not share

Fragrance greeted me;

Smell before sight

Gentle invasion

Of my senses

Pervading soul

As much as body.

And then I saw her

Come from the street –

In every sense –

Privilege of paupers

To share the leftovers.

But that was not

Why she had come.

Knelt at his feet

Tears streaming

Down her face

Etched with her suffering

Eyes reflecting pain

The men around her

Could never understand

But piercing my heart

With its intensity.

And then I saw

What she had brought

Every penny she owned -

And earned at such a price -

Future hopes and dreams

Poured out in love

To this mysterious stranger.

And so at first I marvelled

At such a risky step

Until at last

I saw the love reflected

In His gaze

And finally

I understood.

Picture from Pixabay

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