2/4/00 10.45 a.m. Mothering Sunday Sermon

John 12:1-8

12 1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 "Leave her alone," Jesus replied. "It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me."

What are the things that we expect our mothers to do ? Ask children. prepare & cook food; wash clothes; iron; wash up; clean home.

What things do we not expect our mothers to do ? wire a plug ? clean the spark plugs on a car ? plumb in a washing machine ?

Go off to Alton Towers on her own for a day ?

Today we will look at two women. One did what was expected of her. The other one shocked the people around her.

Martha and Mary were sisters of Lazarus whom Jesus had recently raised from the dead. Martha showed her gratitude to Jesus by hosting this meal, even though it was dangerous because the Jewish authorities were jealous of Jesus. She did the kind of things that we may expect of mothers. Prepared and cooked food, served it to the guests who were reclining at the table, and washed up afterwards. She was just as important to Jesus as her sister Mary. It is a reminder to us today that we should not measure the value of someone by what they do or earn.

We have just seen some women from Ethiopia. Women make up half of the world's population, work two thirds of the world's hours, and earn one tenth of the world's income. On Wednesday we will be watching a video showing how hard some of these women work and how Tearfund, in partnership with local churches, are helping them. Everyone is welcome to come and see this video, even if you have not come to any of the other Lent meetings.

We are more than what we earn. This is true of women based at home, perhaps looking after children. It is vitally important that children receive love and attention as they grow up. It is the greatest investment a parent can make. We are more than what we earn... This is also true of those who are unemployed or retired.

I have seen a television trailer about a man who has won the Lottery but is ill, and would swop his money for a cure. It makes us think, 'What is really important ?' doesn't it ?

Martha filled the air with the smell of her cooking. Mary filled the air with the smell of nard, a costly mixture of imported spices and ointments. It may have been bought as an investment being small and valuable. It was often poured over dead bodies to counteract their smell. Her act contrasted with the meanness of Judas Iscariot.

Martha showed her gratitude to Jesus by serving a meal to honour him. Mary honoured Jesus by pouring this expensive perfume onto Jesus' feet and wiping them with her hair. She showed humility in using her hair to wipe his feet. Later that week the disciples wouldn't think about wiping Jesus' feet with a towel !

She showed love, devotion and reverence for Jesus in this extravagant act. Yet when you try and put a price on a life of someone, such as your brother, you realise what is important, and the act no longer seems extravagant.

Today, let us thank God for his gift of mothers and all the usual things that they do for us. Things that we often take for granted.

Let us also thank God for the times when they do something unexpected for us. Maybe to give us a surprise gift or our favourite meal when we were not expecting it.

May Mary's extravagant devotion towards Jesus be an example to every one of us today and remind us of his priceless gift to us..