Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Love Poured Out

This past Sunday we gathered for worship only a few hours after the horrific shooting in a club in Orlando, some present hearing about it for the first time as it was acknowledged and grieved from the pulpit. We worshiped that morning with that story ringing in our ears and hearts and with the story of a woman who comes to Jesus with oil for anointing and, in with tears and her ointment, anoints Jesus feet as a blessing and offering. Luke tells us that she was a ‘sinner’ and that “she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.” (Luke 7:38)

This woman has some things in common with the victims of the Orlando shooting. Beautiful child of God. Outsider, maligned, judged. She brings a beautiful gift. Jesus could have looked askance at her show of emotion and asked his host to take her away. Instead he welcomes her gift and her tenderness as an offering. He accepts her anointing.

Pastor Megan has talked about anointing as an outpouring of love. Placing the oil with our fingers on the body of another we tenderly become a conduit for God’s blessing. Feeling the gentle touch of another and the smooth oil on our foreheads is a physical reminder of the real and healing presence of God’s Spirit. In offering and receiving anointing, both Jesus and the woman receive a gift – he of tender care and hospitality, she of acceptance, love and welcome.

Anoint us, God. Pour out your tears and your ointment on our tender hearts. Pour out your salve of healing on our Queer kindred. Forgive us for our complicity and bless your beautifully made LGBTQ+ children with safety and protection, a freedom from fear. Anoint us all with love.

A few of our children who were present welcomed anointing in worship. I am always so grateful when children know that that they are a welcome part of our community blessings and rituals. But anointing doesn’t only have to happen at church. You can offer anointing at home too! Essential oils are widely available and on their own or added to olive oil, anoint along with prayer can be a way to physically offer comfort and presence in times of stress, anxiety, or sickness. And children – all of us, really – can feel empowered to also offer anointing to others in the household, either with words or without.

I hope that our children (and all of us, really) know and show that we are a community where all are welcome in our blessing and worship, in the same way the Jesus welcomed an unwelcome woman. In a few weeks we will be able to publicly offer our hospitality and welcome as we meet parade marchers at the end of the Pride Parade with cookies and cold drinks. We will gather after worship at First United Methodist church and all are welcome to be a part of the welcome party (and from what I understand it really is a party). May we gather across generations so that we all may understand that (in the words of Lin Manuel Miranda) love is love is love is love. And we are all anointed.