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Topic Features About Extravagance

The Rev. Dr. Mary Anderson

Alabaster Extravagance

Luke 7:36-50

4th Sunday after Pentecost - Year C

June 16, 2013

The Rev. Dr. Mary Anderson (ELCA)


As a preacher and worship leader, I'm often fascinated and intrigued by how the stories of scripture and the hymns of the church can offer us theological surprise when we change their context. It often feels like a fresh breeze of the Spirit. For example, in my congregation, if we have a funeral service during the season of Christmas, we'll sometimes sing the famous Christmas Eve hymn, "Silent Night." We seldom hear or sing that hymn outside of evening worship on December 24th. When we sing the words "sleep in heavenly peace" in the dark with our candles burning, we know we are singing about baby Jesus, sweetly asleep in the manger. When we sing it the morning of a funeral, say on December 29th, as the casket of a loved one rests before us and voice the words "sleep in heavenly peace," it suddenly becomes a prayer for one who has died rather than a lullaby for a newborn. But singing this hymn at a funeral causes us to remember that the one who was born would also die for us and because he died the one we have lost will have new life. Change of context gives us fresh insights that we don't always get when we use the same things in the same places.

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