Monday, September 15, 2014

Taipei, Day One

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, ‘What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?’ Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him. Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 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. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’John 11:55-12:8

I wake up and it is Tuesday morning here in Taipei. When we arrived last night we were both overwhelmed by the damp heat and the sweet welcome we were given. Our needs were attended to with kindness and an awareness of our exhaustion and that we were clueless. The young woman bellhop told me of wonderful markets to go to in perfect English. I admit I don't remember her advice but will seek her out again for her direction. Here, I am completely reliant on the skill of others. I have to accept their kindnesses and be grateful for all of their help. I cannot do anything on my own here, and must accept my limitations and others blessings with an open and loving heart.

Jesus finds himself back in Bethany. He is greeted with a banquet and such incredible tenderness from Mary. She anoints his feet with expensive perfume, wiping his feet with her hair and filling the house and everyone's lungs with the wondrous sweet fragrance. She is criticized by the greedy but Jesus understands her offering. She offers what she has for love of another, for the care and honoring of another. We are asked by God not to count the cost of the kindnesses and honors we receive but to know the sweetness of the heart that offers them. We rely on the care of others, even when we think we stand alone, and we are called to be grateful for the small (and large) blessings we receive.

Today I ask God for complete gratitude. May the exhaustion and fears that can surround us be wiped away by gratitude and love. May we be grateful for need and even more for the people who help us navigate when we are lost and in a new place. May our hearts be ever thankful for the blessings we receive today.


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