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The expensive alabaster gift that Christmas never had

“I entered your house. You gave me no water for my feet.  She has wet My feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, she since the time I came in hasn’t ceased to kiss My feet.  She hasn’t stopped.  You didn’t anoint My head with oil, she anointed My feet with perfume.  You didn’t even put common olive oil on My feet, she gave Me perfume.  For this reason I say to you, her sins which are many have been forgiven because she loved much and somebody who has forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:36).

I don’t break the tradition of writing on Christmas , but I did have second thoughts. I should concede, my love for Christmas has dwindled to a trickle, not for I despise the event, but because the more I reflect on the Scripture, I discern that was not God’s purpose for giving His son whom we wrap with goodies in a stable with reindeer and Santa Claus. When was the last time you read the reindeer and Santa Claus in the Bible? All the revelries, drunkenness, lusting…and all that packaged with a neo-modern babe in the manger. How sickening. “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me” (Amos 5). When hearts are far away and adoration is made with lips, there is no merriness in that Christmas.

If only God sent Jesus, so we could casually reminisce once in a year? If at all we had to celebrate one such, I think He would have supernaturally had it written in one of the Gospel letters? But you don’t find the date anywhere, why not? The only way God wanted us to remember His son was by living in Him and being in Him every single day, in every minute details, relationships and decisions, like in marriage to one groom! We have a lot of the worldliness seep in and corrupt that which is good. For certain, the Jesus in the Scripture cannot be born, leave alone live, where sin remains. And it is inconceivable where pride reigns.

Should there be one example to emulate this Christmas, I would pick this charming woman who broke the alabaster jar at the house of a ‘religious’ man. And I don’t think there is any character I can relate my own life with.

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.

alabaster-jar2Brokenness is central to a true Christian’s life. And that is exactly why the Psalmist wrote – “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”. You can know a certain Jesus, but to be intimate is only assured for those. A hundred times, I would pick the company of broken jars, with simplicity and genuine searching than a bunch of folks gobbling and dissertating spirituality with boastings of life…they simply expose their poor understanding of Jesus.

An alabaster container was uniquely made in Egypt and was used to contain expensive perfume. It would constitute a full year’s pay. Perfume was part of the trade of being a prostitute then. Conscious of her immoral self, she was aware of being a social disgrace and least acceptable at that house. Questions remained in her mind. Is there love more sublime than what is out there? Is there forgiveness that is divine? Acceptance without exception? And absolution that is irrevocable? She looks at Him reclining at the table and sees how the wily owner humiliated the Lord offering no water for his feet, oil for his head, demeaning the Rabbi and giving the least honor. And the woman found someone more deserving yet treated on the same page. She found the one who was sinless but became sin, and if He can accept her, nothing else mattered. Picture her standing in the background completely mesmerized…and with all her brimming joy wanting to profusely express than mere empty words.

She knows her past. The abuse of love, the painful emotional trappings and all the hurt she went through. And none of the mediocre people remained. To be left alone in the cold…not even those that abused her company. All her past running through her mind, she wept and wept at that feet.

Flood of tears flow out.She further lets her hair down in full public to dry His feet, though knowing that was a picture of humiliation and shame. She then proceeds to break the most expensive posession…the dearest she owned and carried…and she breaks that at His feet. What extravagant love. She went home having made peace with God. And the flask of perfume that she deemed valuable was broken and cast away when she found something of more worth. The fragrance of her heart…her love and humility truly smells the sweetest in the face of all the stained perfume.

Genuine people are those that are least calculative. They don’t save their resources, they dont scheme for the security of their tomorrow. They don’t blabber empty prayers and tall promises, but express beyond words…in ways so captivating. And not to merely shed a drop..but to break it wholly and leave it dry. That is exactly the kind of people that are hurt most. But they are the ones Jesus said – I have come for the lost. One cannot fathom fully but only grasp a brief measure of this life.

In my journey of crossroads, the culmination is here…as I stand at the door quietly, with melancholic stillness and  see a ray of hope…to see more clearly that which personifies love. As I grasp the enormity of the alabaster sacrifice and recollect another year gone by, it is indeed a silent night…no jingle in the backdrop, no family portraits, and if those that remain and share in your celebration expose the greatest investment in your life, I know my pursuits have been miserable. What remains as I wrap this year is the gripping scene and dazzling heart of this humble woman that demonstrates quiet fervor.