Good morning to all you cracked pots at Chautauqua,” said the Rev. David Anderson to the congregation at the 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, July 10 Ecumenical Service in the Amphitheater. His sermon title was “The Power of ‘Alabaster,’ ” and the Scripture reading was Luke 7:36-50.
“Your desperation may be your path to your deliverance,” he said.
The woman with the alabaster jar broke into a male dinner party and pushed her way through her shame to get to the one who could heal her.
“She broke moral, spiritual and sociological laws to get to Jesus,” Anderson said. “There are many pathways to Jesus.”
The woman at the well met Jesus by chance. The bleeding woman tried to meet Jesus secretly because she did not want Jesus to know who was touching him. The woman caught in adultery was dropped in front of Jesus.
“I believe that Jesus is the only way to God the Father,” Anderson said. “But I believe there are 7 billion pathways to Jesus. We all have a story about how we came to Jesus.”
The woman in Luke 7 knew she had a bad reputation as a “working woman.” She knew Jesus would be in a home near her.
“She decided, ‘I will purposefully break the rules to get deliverance,’ ’’ he said. “When you come close to Jesus, when you encounter him in proximity, do you move forward or move away? Some people come so close, so close to healing or victory, but they can’t press through, and they walk away.”
But you have to keep pressing, Anderson told the congregation.
“There is someone here today who is close to the blessing that they want,” he said. “The only way to get the blessing you want is to press through the judgments and social norms, to keep on pressing. No matter what you have done, keep pressing for the blessing. God will bless you, no matter what you have done. Push through the judgments, death, fears, hurt, rejections, whatever is holding you back. Believe you will push through.”
Anderson admitted that the preacher was coming out of him.
“The Spirit is telling me that there is someone in the house today who needs this word, and this word is just for you.”
He asked the congregation to turn to a neighbor and say “push through.”
The woman with the alabaster jar anointed Jesus with her tears and wiped his feet with her hair.
“This means that you have all you need to be at the feet of Jesus,” Anderson said. “To qualify for your deliverance, all you need to do is show up and say to Jesus, ‘I need you.’ ”
Jesus, he said, came for the sick and the unrighteous, not those who have it all together.
“He came for the cracked pots,” Anderson said. “There are religious people who don’t need Jesus, but Jesus wants you to step out in faith. He needs someone who needs him.”
Anderson then posed a question.
“Does anyone need Jesus anymore?” he asked. “We have religions, churches and theologies that say they don’t need Jesus, but tell him to come to the party anyway.”
Jesus is having his own party, and he is the guest of honor.
Jesus’ response is: “Please come. Even if you don’t need me, you can still come,” Anderson said.
In the story of Luke, Jesus asked Peter which person would have more gratitude — the one forgiven little or the one forgiven much. Peter answered, “The one forgiven much.”
“When you have much forgiven, you become grateful, and when you are grateful, you become more loving,” Anderson said. “Those who get God’s grace become the most loving. Some of the most judgmental people are church folk who don’t know they need forgiveness.”
When you see your own sin, Anderson told the congregation, and you see that Jesus is willing to forgive, you will walk out into the world loving more.
“The more you repent, the more you love,” he said. “Your desperation to be forgiven and clean before God may be the pathway to your deliverance. The power of alabaster is your healing grace as you power through to the feet of Jesus.”
Anna Grace Glaize, Christian coordinator for the Abrahamic Program for Young Adults, presided. Rawad Oueiss, a scholarship student with the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons from Lebanon, read the Scriptures in Arabic and English. Oueiss studies civil engineering at Notre Dame University, Louaize, in Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon. Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, directed the Motet Choir in singing “With What Shall I Come Before the Lord?” by Jane Marshall. The Jackson-Carnahan Memorial Chaplaincy and the Mr. and Mrs. William Uhler Memorial Chaplaincy support this week’s services.