Soul Food: Imago Dei Lenten Study
By Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten Season, a time of 40 days (excluding Sundays) of personal reflection and growth. In preparation this Holy Season, I have studied Matthew 14:3-9,
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly.
‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’
The challenge for us is to examine our lives through the gift of Mary of Bethany. Mary is purposeful and intentional about her worship of Jesus. She engaged Jesus with complete adoration – breaking the jar and pouring the expensive nard over his head. In her actions, she was giving all that she had with no reservations, even knowing that others would not approve or fully understand.
My prayerful invitation during this Lenten Season is to strive to embody Mary of Bethany’s praise and love of Jesus, to the point of extravagance – in generosity of our finances, love, and justice seeking. I am moved and excited, knowing that this Lenten season holds great potential for a deep dive into our faith.
One of the ways in which you are invited to an extravagant Lenten Season is by participating in the new, free Lenten resource from the General Commission on Religion and Race, Imago Dei Lenten Bible Study. This five-week study is about diversity, equity and inclusion written in the style of Lectio Divina, in which all participants are equal, all voices are invited to participate, and there are no wrong answers. The study is built to listen to the Holy Spirit and share by mutual invitation.
This is our Wisconsin Annual Conference’s way of living into “Radical Inclusion and Racial Justice” by celebrating our diversity, equity and inclusion through the image of God. How extravagant!
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).