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It was during a testimony service in 1997, if I remember correctly.

I guess I should say, it was a regular three-to-four-hour worship service, and we were just at the testimony time. I, as usual, was hungry and ready to go. It was getting late, and I had school in the morning. Therefore, my attitude was anything but enthused.

The pastor reached into the pulpit cabinet and grabbed the anointing oil. I then knew two things were about to happen: (1) the service was going to be longer and (2) my mom was going to make me go down and get anointed with oil and prayed upon.

As we lined up in the aisle of the sanctuary, I thought to myself, “There has to be something better we could be doing with our time!”

I cannot remember the exact words of the pastor’s prayer, but I do remember the congregation singing altogether, and as the words poured out, my attitude and mindset began to change.

These words created a transformation of my own understanding of the importance of anointment:

“Something got a hold of me.
Oh yes it did one day.
Something got a hold of me.
I went to a meeting one night,
and my heart wasn’t right.
Something got a hold of me.

“They were singing
‘Come Ye That Loves the Lord’
And I thought they were singing to me
Something hit me
Up over my head
And run right to my feet
I never shall forget it.”

Now, I know our focus for the John 12 passage is usually on Mary anointing the “Anointed One.” After all, that is what “Messiah” means. Or we focus on the costly perfume, the sum of money it is worth and the use of Mary’s hair as a drying agent.

But can we be honest for a second? Judas isn’t wrong. Judas asks a logical question, “Why was this perfume not sold for 300 denarii and the money given to the poor?”

The passage says that Judas was a thief and was accustomed to stealing the money in the purse. But thief or not, most of us might have been thinking relatively the same thing.

Whether Judas had a wrong spirit or not, there was some logic to what he asked. And this might be the most important aspect of the entire scene.

God’s kingdom and ways are usually not logical or socially common. And whether Jesus’ words changed Judas’ perspective or not isn’t the point.

While we are searching for logic, Christ is calling us to love. Love does not always make sense; it changes minds and transforms hearts. While we are determined to try to make sense of all things, Christ is calling us to sit in the beauty of love.

As Debie Thomas states, “Is Mary’s gift lavish? Yes. Is it ‘useless’ in the practical-minded economy Judas brings to the table? Yes. Is it efficient, orderly, or logical? No. And yet Jesus cherishes and blesses it.”

Reading this passage, my mind drifted to waiting in the aisle, waiting to be anointed with oil. I began singing the song the congregation did during that testimony time many years back.

“Something got a hold of me.
Oh yes it did one day.
Something got a hold of me.”

May the Spirit grab hold of us again and again, reminding us that to simply partake in the moments we deem lavish can truly be an act of love and worship, even when all logic seems lost.

Editor’s note: This article is part of a lectionary-based series for the season of Lent. One article will be published each week, offering reflection on one or more of the lectionary texts for the upcoming Sunday. The previous articles in the series are:

Lenten Lectionary | Returning to God, Returning to Self | Molly T. Marshall

Lenten Lectionary | Wilderness Living Merianna Harrelson

Lenten Lectionary | It’s Not Easy Being Human Rod Benson

Lenten Lectionary | Singing in the Shadow of God’s Wings | James Gordon

Lenten Lectionary | Seeing the Good in Repentance | Danielle L. Bridgeforth

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