Have you noticed the ridiculous number of Black Friday sales? How about the big debate about stores being open on Thanksgiving? Way to go, Costco, I say! Americans have noticed the loss of Thanksgiving in the hoopla over Halloween and the Christmas scramble. The small touch of orange, yellow and brown gets lost behind advertisements about football. Whatever happened to our attitude of gratitude? It was gobbled up in greed.
I remember working at Gold Circle in Columbus, Ohio back in the early 80's. I was obviously pregnant with my first child, working in the ladies' accessories department. That year Cabbage Patch dolls had become the toy of the season. As I was clearing the emptied boxes out of the way, the front doors opened for the day. A sudden rush from the front of the store to toys began. My department was on the warpath of these competitors for coveted toys. As I was ready to step out of the main aisle, I was rammed in the back with a shopping cart! This crazed woman never apologized or checked to see if I was okay. The toy department was ripped to shreds by voracious pirrahnas in short order. I was left with only a nasty bruise, thankfully. I have since sworn off shopping during such a crazy time. I'd rather focus on other things.
Not another Thanksgiving message like all the others every year?! Nope! Not the same. In fact, you may think that I got lost in my calendar. The Bible is such a treasure trove of valuable insights for our lives. No need to be stuck in the same' ole, same 'ole!
Let's look at the anointing of Jesus for His burial in three passages: John 12:1-11, Matthew 26:6-12, and Mark 14:3-9. Jesus and his disciples are eating dinner at Simon the Leper's house. He was there six days before Passover. In fact, it was six days before the Last Supper. Lazarus, the man He raised from the dead was there. His sister, Martha, served everyone. It sounds like Judas Iscariot might be the son of Simon the leper. As they were eating and talking, Mary, Lazarus' and Martha's sister came in. She had an alabaster jar of spikenard, a very expensive perfume that cost a year's wages. It was used for preparing a body for burial. The aroma filled the room as she poured it on Jesus' head and wiped it up from His feet with her hair. She anointed Him for burial and washed His feet. This same act shows up in Luke 7:336-50 by a "sinful woman" at Simon the Pharisee's house right after John the Baptist was beheaded. Same woman? Maybe, but doubtful. The Luke passage was early in Jesus' ministry. This act by Mary happened at the end of His ministry. What a tremendous act of worship on her part.
Suddenly indignation arose. Judas said she should have used the money for food for the poor instead. He didn't care about the poor since he pilfered from the troupe's coffers. The disciples chimed in. Why were they caught up in the amount of money the perfume cost? Why didn't they ask about her use of burial perfume on Him?
Jesus straightened them out immediately. He corrected them for their attitudes being focused in the wrong place. When He told them that she had anointed Him for His burial, He was telling them 1) He was going to die and 2) she had performed an extravagant act of worship. Time for an attitude adjustment!
Mary gave thanks through her worship of Jesus. She spared no expense to do such a beautiful thing for Him. Judas was a disgraceful jerk! He wasn't there because he loved Jesus. He was there for what he could get, which shows when he leaves the meal to sell Jesus to the Pharisees. Attitude makes all the difference.
What about us? What are we thankful about? Do we share in Thanksgiving rah-rah sessions on social media then go out on Black Friday like a maniac trying to score that prize? Hopefully, not. Not everyone who shops the day after Thanksgiving behaves badly. I remember a man who was thankful for the ability to come to the gym to work out. He said not everyone can. That was a different view. A woman with MS at a YMCA was thankful that she could still use her walker instead of being confined to a wheelchair. Another member was grateful her son was able to come home from Afghanistan for the holidays. We can be thankful for the things we have and are capable of obtaining. However, most of the worthwhile things we are thankful for aren't obtained with money.
We have the opportunity to share God's gift with others. Let us follow Mary's example of Thanks. We should show our gratitude to our Savior for salvation. It was an outrageously expensive gift He gave us. He spared no expense. Find needs to meet. Mary anointed Him for burial. Is there someone who has a need God has enabled you to fill? We can also redirect people to our Savior as Jesus did for His disciples. They needed to see what was really going on. Is there someone who needs to be introduced to Jesus or has their priorities mixed up you can help? Go, give thanks!
God bless you! Have a grateful Thanksgiving!
A blog post from my archives: Thanksgiving Feast Re-constructed