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Summary: In our Scripture today, we see an example of what happens when a person’s heart is captured by the Light of the World. From this woman, we learn several things about sacrifice and giving

Break a Jar

Mark 14: 1-9

We’re starting a new series called, “Illuminate.” Our foundational Scripture verse is Revelation 21:23 which says, “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it.” Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." That light has not only been given to us but we are called to reflect that light in our lives as well. For Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” We are called to illuminate the darkness.

There’s a lot of darkness in the world. It’s doesn’t take too long to see it all around us. We’re reminded of it on the nightly news, the front page of the paper, on nola.com and the news tweets we receive each day. There are over 250,000 people on the WestBank and most of them are surrounded by darkness. Over 150,000 people on the WestBank don’t attend a church on Sunday morning. They need the Light of Jesus Christ. 2 Timothy 1:10 says, “And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.” We want to illuminate the WestBank with the love of Christ. So we’re in a special season right now focusing on how we can be light and how Gretna UMC can get out the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ and what we have to offer here to the people of the WestBank. We’re seeking to raise funds for a significant marketing campaign to get the Word out but Illuminate is more than a fundraising campaign. The point of Illuminate is not the gift but what happens in your heart when you’re captured by the Light of the World and become light to others. What we need more than your money is your heart. We need your heart to be completely sold out for Jesus and God’s mission of “Connecting diverse communities to a lifestyle devoted to Jesus.” If you are, then you will go into the places of darkness in our community and begin to illuminate it.

Last week, we gave everyone in worship an envelope filled with $10 and asked them to go and bless someone with it. We called it the Bless Back Project and it was a tangible way we could be light by blessing someone unexpectedly. What happens when God’s people get generous? Hearts get changed and lives touched with the light of Christ. In addition, this series, “Illuminate” will conclude with two major events: the first being on September 8 where we’re challenging you to step up and give a revolutionary gift for a marketing and advertising campaign so we can Illuminate the WestBank with the Light of Christ. The second is September 15th as we celebrate Friend Day and Kick off a new sermon series called, “Modern Family.” But the planning and participation for that event begins now as you start to pray for your oikos and others whom you can invite to worship on September 8th.

In our Scripture today, we see an example of what happens when a person’s heart is captured by the Light of the World. Our story is about a woman who was so overwhelmed by being in Jesus’ presence and the thought of all he had done in her life, that she shared her most expensive and prized possession, a jar of alabaster oil and poured it over Jesus. Oils and perfumes were widely used in the ancient world. This expensive perfume was made from a plant grown principally in India. The jar likely was more of a flask whose neck would have to be broken to pour the oil out. So she broke it open and began to pour it on the head of Jesus. This type of perfume was purchased for future use in a funeral. There was no embalming among the Israelites. Burial would be within hours after a death, and the body would be washed, perfumed, and laid to rest. So she took the alabaster jar of expensive perfume, broke it open and then poured it out until every drop was exhausted and the flask empty.

From this woman, we learn several things when your heart is captivated by the Light of the World. First, you take advantage of special opportunities to serve Christ when they arise. This incident took place while Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem and eventually to the cross. He and the disciples had stopped over for a few days in the little village of Bethany probably to visit with friends. Bethany is just a few miles from Jerusalem. While he was there, he was invited to the house of Simon the leper for a dinner in Jesus’ honor. We don’t know exactly who Simon was but he obviously was a healed leper, or he wouldn’t have been able to host a dinner party. Most likely, he is one of the many people Jesus touched and healed. So this woman finds herself in the presence of Jesus and a dinner given in his honor. This provides a unique opportunity to do something extravagant for Him. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And that’s the way it is with opportunities to be light. It can happen in planned events but many times it can happen in a spontaneous act. And this woman? She did what she could. She gave the most precious and expensive thing she had to Jesus and poured it on Him.

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