The First 15

Friday April 17, 2020

by First Methodist Mansfield

Undignified Worship


Mark 14:1-11

1 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

3 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.

4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.


I am forever grateful for the community of Trinity UMC in Elkhart, IN for the way they loved me and my family growing up. From before first grade started through graduating high school, this was our home church. They challenged me to lead at an early age. They saw something in me long before I had any awareness of a calling to ministry. Like FMCM, Trinity was a multi-generational church. We worshipped about 1,000 on a weekend between three services. Our congregation was highly educated and full of doctors, lawyers, accountants, small business owners, teachers, and public officials. Church, for some, was a social gathering. A place to be seen and rub shoulders with others in the community for potential mutually beneficial purposes. We had two traditional services and one contemporary. Even in our contemporary service, most people wore church clothes. There was a noticeable decorum and dignity that most people brought to church.

Before you think I’m making a broad judgment, many of the most godly disciples of Jesus Christ I know, cry out to God and intentionally and fully pray and worship without very much overt or outward expression. What I’ve noticed in worship settings that are very tight and buttoned up and dignified, is a tendency to view the spontaneous, outwardly expressive responses to God in worship and prayer as a distraction or nuisance. On the other hand, there is a kind of spiritual pride at work in many communities of faith that believe if one doesn’t outwardly demonstrate their affection for God by the raising of hands or other criteria, then a lack of faith is present. It’s still very rare to find a worshipping community fully at home in welcoming and embracing both expressions, without judgment of the other, across all worship services.

The spontaneous act of the woman anointing Jesus provokes a response from others like we’ve seen at church. “Who does she think she is!? Does she know we can see how expensive and wasteful she is being!? Does she know how loud she is singing!? She is giving way too much!” Scripture doesn’t tell us that she knew it was time for Jesus to go to the cross. Jesus tells us her spontaneous act of worship is a prophetic act. She is anointing Jesus’ body before he ever dies. Like Abel’s offering, hers was acceptable and pleasing to God. Criticism, judgment, betrayal, and argumentation surrounds her gracious and generous act of love towards Jesus. Jesus says what she has done will be remembered and spoken of wherever the gospel is preached! Wow!

Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart (2 Samuel 6:14-1).

David didn’t always wear church clothes even though he had plenty. He was undignified in his worship leaping and dancing before the Lord. Not everyone approves of this. Even the disciples and David’s own wife disapprove of the pure, unrestrained public demonstration of worship. But God approves! Where are you holding back? In your walk with God, where are you exhibiting restraint instead of expressing fully your devotion? Are you willing to express and give to God freely?

Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory (Psalm 149:1-4).

Prayer for Today

[Use the Lord’s Prayer as a framework and add personal praises, questions, confessions, etc.] Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. There is no other name above yours. Your name is holy. At the sound of your name, all creation sings for joy of the mighty works of your hands. You are worthy of all honor and praise. We rejoice that you have made known to us who you are through sending your Son. Lord, we pray that your kingdom comes and your will is done on earth as it is in heaven. We long for justice to roll down the mountains and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. We are your people who declare your favor upon this day you have given us. Move us by your Spirit. Conform us to your character. Give us our daily bread today. Lord, we depend on you for all that we need. You are everything we need, yet we often chase after idols. We run after the wind and take for granted your great gifts. Forgive us, oh God. Have mercy on us. Free us for joyful obedience as we forgive our brothers and sisters who have sinned against us. Lead us away from evil and the schemes of the enemy. Deliver us into your presence Lord. We long to be in your presence where goodness and mercy are our covering. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen

The First 15

Sign up to receive an email notification whenever a new devotional is posted to The First 15.