The women’s tea was a gift with many layers to me. Clearly, a great deal of preparation went into making it a gift for all who attended. The lovely table décor, the set apart location, the sandwiches, petit fours, coffee and tea, the great company of women, and the hilarious and thought- provoking skit offered by Nita and Terry provided just some of the outer layers.
In the skit, Terry had the brilliant and efficient idea (“because I am a very busy woman”) to give Nita all of her gifts for the year (birthday, Christmas, anniversary, etc.) at one time. Nita received all manner of recycled items from Terry’s home, including a toothbrush, a shoe string, a pair of peach underwear, and a facial mud mask. Nita, on the other hand, just focused on Christmas, and gave to Terry a silver platter that had been given to her by her mother, something precious to her. We were asked to think about the gifts we bring to God or to others, and whether they are the best of our energies, or the remains of the day, so to speak.
Next, we zoomed in on Mary Magdalene’s extravagant and bold gift to Jesus, her act of pouring costly perfume (worth a year’s wages) on Jesus’ head in front of the disapproving disciples. Scripture says that “the disciples were indignant when they saw this and said, ‘Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor’” (Matthew 26:8-9).
Jesus defended Mary and her gift to him, as he said to the scornful disciples, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For the poor you have with you always; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume upon my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done shall also be spoken in memory of her” (Matthew 26:10-13).
I was challenged to think of the gift that comes to me when I sit at Jesus’ feet and worship him, share my needs with him, and pray for my needs and the needs of others. That gift also, hopefully, flows out to others, as my perspective is re-oriented, and I see what really matters and am assured of God’s delight in me.
I want to give my best time and energies to Jesus, but I confess to often being distracted and concerned about 7 many other things . . . and I give my energies elsewhere, or I give the remains of the day to Jesus.
Mary’s extravagant gift became something that is spoken about wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world. In other words, even though her gift was given to Jesus, it is encouraging to believers like me even today. It has flowed out beyond her time with Jesus.
This was the inner layer of the gift to me...to look at Mary Magdalene’s bold example of a gift of Jesus, and to re-orient myself away from being a “busy woman,” to being focused on being a beloved woman whose best gifts can be rightly given to Jesus, with the hope that they will flow out to impact others from there.
Thank you to the team who labored to put this gift together for those of us women in the church. It was indeed a good gift for me.