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Extravagant Worship

“And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.” Mark 14:3

I think many of those reading this post can understand where I’m coming from when I say that I was raised to not waste money. At least not large sums of money. Clothing we bought was of a modest price and expected to last. Food was simple and we rarely ate out. Our homes were more or less humble and much of our furniture second hand. In fact, my parents didn’t replace my bed until after I and my brothers had all married and I remember sleeping on it when I was three years old.

We didn’t have money to waste so we didn’t waste it.

I fear that, as Christians, to a degree, our scrupulousness has extended into our worship as well. I can’t think of a single church building, that was not purchased second hand, that has any kind of expensive ornamentation, like decorative paneling or woodwork, artwork, or stained glass. This strikes me as funny because most if not all express wonder and admiration when they worship in those second hand buildings where such ornamentation is present. If we admire it and think it adds to the worship environment why do we neglect this aspect when we plan our buildings?

God certainly didn’t neglect the visual appearance of his sanctuary when he gave instructions for the gold plated paneling, rich draperies, and decorative carvings. And some of these would only be seen by Him most of the year.

Mary Magdalene, didn’t shy away from extravagance when she made her offering of worship at Simon’s feast. The cost of her offering was a years wages for a working man. That would be between $30,000 and $50,000, here in the United States today. And she just poured it out. It was a one time gift and it could never be repurposed for another use.

Jesus praised her for her gift of worship.

Sometimes, I fear that we hold back far too much. In our effort to be good stewards we demonstrate a lack of faith in our God who possesses everything and can provide anything we might want or need. As a offering of simple faith, our generosity towards God in worship needs to more nearly approach the worship of Mary, in the way we plan our houses of worship and in the way we exercise our service to God.

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