Written for Abe Smith’s Mark Exegesis class at Andover Newton, 2001.

It’s Monday of Holy Week, and there are many words to read and sermons to write and liturgies to complete and many pastors feel the overwhelm already. We’ll have special posts here today and Thursday to keep you going.

In the Revised Common Lectionary, the gospel lesson for Monday of Holy Week is John’s take on the anointing woman, and I’m reminded of writing a long paper on Mark’s version of the story, in which an unnamed woman cracks open the jar of expensive perfume on Jesus’ head, not his feet. He tells the disciples that people will remember her and tell the story –

I tell you the truth that, wherever in the whole world the good news is announced, what she’s done will also be told in memory of her.  (Mark 14:9, Common English Bible)

but it’s nowhere to be found in the lectionary. I want to say that every time we stand in a pulpit, or pour out the water of baptism or break the bread and lift the cup, we are telling her story of service and love to Jesus. Hold that thought this week in the midst of details around bread and juice and candles and musicians and flower deliveries.

Join the conversation in the comments and let us know what you’re working on today.

And have a jelly bean. You’ll need it before the week is over.

16 thoughts on “Holy Week Prep Party: Break Open the Jar!

  1. This week is one of coordination for me. I am back in the saddle of the parish we are both attending. We are one of the parishes out of its building in the midst of schism in our denomination. We have waited for 5 years for a court order to return our buildings but it hasn’t happened. There are 2 congregations that do not have buildings and a parish that is presently without a priest. So we are coming together to celebrate the Triduum together. This is much harder than doing it all myself when I was in a single parish. But in many ways, it is more rewarding. We have all had to step back from our personal visions of how Holy Week should be celebrated. We have had to check our egos at the door. I preach only the Maundy Thursday service (TBTG) but I have to be more vigilant to be sure that everyone gets a chance to serve. So today, I begin making my lists so that we will arrive on Easter together. Prayers please.


  2. Thursday’s sermon is done – how we’ve sanitized the dinner party into something sterile and lifeless when it is really a pre-Irish-wake feast. Friday’s is in the early birthing pangs – maybe something about the mirroring of the last supper with this first post-resurrection breakfast…Jesus keeps on serving it up, even when we don’t recognize that’s what’s happening. Easter Vigil will be the St John Chrysostom Paschal Homily – cannot be topped – and Easter Sunday I haven’t even begun to think about. Oh, yeah, there’s a Wednesday service too, but I usually do a 5 minute extempore homily. Hoping the Spirit will deliver on that one as she always does…


  3. Love the visual graphic for the text, Martha! Crossing my fingers that things are coming together. Mostly the “undone” is to make home-communion visits this week. MT is a potluck meal, foot-washing, and communion. GF is a “lessons and carols” type service on the Symbols of Holy Week, and I have an Easter sermon title…Flunking Easter.

    Trying very hard not to think about vacation which begins with the benediction on Sunday…a drive to an airport…and a flight to warmer places. (Note to self: make reservations for the cat and make an appointment for the vehicle for an oil-change)


  4. Oh, martha! This is so beautiful – both the prose/poem and the reflection. Thank you very much, sister. I have the beginnings of an easter sermon. Need to put together something for early service on Sunday. And I now have an idea for our healing/foot-washing service on Friday night (weird time due to scheduling conflict, but I’m hoping Jesus and the Triduum Police won’t mind) if it’s ok with you, Martha, for me to reproduce this? With attributions, natch.


    1. Thanks so much and for the kind offer of early easter too! I’m actually am pretty sure I know what i’m doing for early easter, I just need to pull it together.


  5. We’ve been considering some of the women Jesus encountered in his ministry throughout Lent. Continuing that this Holy Week, with some of the women from that last week – the girl servants in the courtyard who confronted Peter, Pilate’s wife, whose disturbing dream affected his judgment and, on Wednesday,the women around the cross. Thursday is an “unplugged” service – a simple reading of Matthew’s Passion narrative with communion and then Friday is a Tenebrae. So, all in all, feeling pretty organised. Trying not to do too much during the day as I won’t have a break after Easter as I normally do, so pacing myself. ( although I do have two funerals!) Thanks, Martha, for providing opportunities to share.


  6. I am thinking of going in a different direction to our usual Thursday and Friday services.
    for Thursday evening, I am thinking no hymns, a short talk on what Maundy means – thanks working preacher psalm person – and communion using table talk from the Iona book Jesus and Peter. it starts by Peter asking when will we see the Kingdom.
    Friday we would usually read the looong reading, intersperse with reflection/prayer/hymn verses. I have preached a few times but not often. for some reason this year I want to focus on love, which seems odd for the atmosphere we generally think about on Good Friday. contrasting the love we celebrate on Valentine’s day with the Love of Good Friday.
    for the first time I am planning on some reflection stations in the hall, from Spill the Beans, so not the standard stations of the cross – which means being at the church and arranign for others to be there for the space to be open. and I havent advertised it.
    and Easter Sunday I am thinking about surprises, and the unexpected. a Facebook thread from some people I knew at college included a query: how can some people see an empty tomb as resurrection and others see an empty space?

    resurrection scene to make like a nativity scene, never thought of that before.


  7. just saw this:
    ““The proof that God raised Jesus from the dead is not the empty tomb,
    but the full hearts of his transformed disciples.
    The crowning evidence that he lives is not a vacant grave,
    but a spirit-filled fellowship.
    Not a rolled-away stone, but a carried-away church.”
    (Clarence Jordan). Can our Easter congregations look and live like this on Sunday as witnesses to the resurrection? It probably can’t be handed out at the door


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