MARCH 26, 2021



'To be in your presence

To sit at your feet

Where your love surrounds me

And makes me complete

This is my desire, O Lord

This is my desire.

To rest in your presence

Not rushing away

To cherish each moment

Here, I will stay.

This is my desire, O Lord.

This is my desire ... '



JOHN 12:1-8


Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. 3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.

4 But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, 5 “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” 6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.

7 Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”




Our Gospel reading today is a passage that dramatically introduces the passion story of Jesus. It is a fitting account for us to finish our week on, as Sunday is Palm Sunday which leads us into Holy Week and our reflections on Jesus path to the cross.

What struck me in this text is how unexpected most of the actions are.

· It was unexpected that someone would use such a costly amount of perfume to clean someone’s feet.

· It was unexpected (at least to those in attendance) that Jesus would dampen the mood of the feast and gift by talking about his death.

· And it was unexpected that he would engage in an argument over dinner with one of his disciples.

Perhaps what is most unexpected is that Jesus is anointed by Mary. As Eliseo Pérez-Álvares points out in is commentary, “it is usually men who anoint men. Samuel anointing Saul to be Israel’s first king. Male Popes anointing male emperors throughout western history, and so on. But here, Mary lets down her hair – with all the cultural connotations of that expression – and anoints Jesus.”

Somehow all these “unexpected’s” point us to the reality that God is often up to unexpected things with, for, and through unexpected people. People expected the messiah to look like King David; what they got instead was the son of a virgin named Mary and a carpenter Father and wandering Rabbi/teacher. As we will be reminded of in our worship on Sunday, the crowds who welcome Jesus into Jerusalem in a few verses from our text, expected Jesus to throw out the Romans; instead he is crucified by them. Even his followers expect his crucifixion to be the end of the story; it turns out to be just the beginning.

The point of all this is that our God is the God of surprise, of the unexpected. Sarah wasn’t expected to have children, let alone give birth to a lineage that would reach all the way to the Messiah, Jesus. Moses was not expected to lead the Israelites to freedom. Miriam wasn’t expected to be the prophetess of Israel teaching her people to sing of God’s victory over the Egyptians. The shepherd boy David wasn’t supposed to be king. And on and on and on. Surprises and the unexpected are part of God’s story.

God loves to do the unexpected with, for, and through unexpected people. Would you agree that the highlight of the work and activity of this unexpected God occurs, as death is assumed to have the last word, until Jesus is raised from the dead?

So, one thing I have been asking myself lately, perhaps some of you also have wondered this too, what do I expect of God; to come in power, to help us at Ambassador rebound in 2021, to answer my prayers as I would like, and am I prepared to be astonished and surprised as God again does the unexpected?

It is exciting to serve the God of surprises. What unexpected things might God be doing in our worshipping community? We might ask whom God might work through next. Think about your fellow Ambassador worshippers, for God may be about to use each of them in a surprising way to care for their neighbor, to offer a listening ear, to do their work with faithfulness and courage. What we do know is that God is frequently about the matter of surprising us with where He shows up, whom He uses, and what He accomplishes. The One who shows up where we least expect, is the God who is always taking action for good.

I invite to remember that the God who unexpectedly used Mary to anoint God’s Son is also using you, your faith and hard work and gifts, and you will also do unexpected and marvelous things.


May the God of Surprises delight you,

inviting you to accept gifts not yet imagined.

May the God of Transformation call you,

opening you to continual renewal.

May the God of Justice confront you,

daring you to see the world through God’s eyes.

May the God of Abundance affirm you,

nudging you towards deeper trust.

May the God of Embrace hold you,

encircling you in the hearth of God’s home.

May the God of Hopefulness bless you,

encouraging you with the fruits of faith.

May the God of Welcoming invite you,

drawing you nearer to the fullness of God’s expression in you.

May God Who is Present be with you,

awakening you to God in all things, all people, and all moments.

May God be with you.


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