Opening Prayer

This week has been very hectic so I am sharing a poem from my book, Negotiating the Shadows: Daily Meditations for Lent. Eugene, OR: WIPF and
Stock, 2010, pg. 17-18. This week’s Gospel reading is of Mary anointing Jesus. This poem reflects primarily on the Mark and Luke version of the story but is relevant this week.

Opening Prayer

A jar cracked open,
the scent of unexpected extravagance,
flooded the room.

Judgment filled the space
between perception and understanding,
as a woman knelt at your feet
drying her tears.

She had come–
in the house of Pharisee or Leper.

All who watched her found her wanting
how she cleansed and anointed

But You saw more
than money wasted
and a life dismissed.

How often do we focus on the jar –
caught up in the expectations of the usual,
failing to notice the human
broken open in our midst?

You welcomed her,
accepted her gifts
and found the others wanting.

Your followers today would respond
just as the original twelve,
though You have taught us to see more clearly.

Crack open these clay jars
that you have paid so dearly for.
Open us to the possibilities of extravagance
in the unexpected encounter
with PhariseesDSC00329
all of today’s

RCL – Year C – Fifth Sunday in Lent – March 17, 2013

Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm 126
Philippians 3:4b-14
John 12:1-8


About rachaelkeefe

Hi. I am a pastor, an author, a painter, and a poet. My latest book is available now to order from Chalice Press, The Lifesaving Church: Faith Communities and Suicide Prevention (
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