Friday, November 15, 2013

The Alabaster Jar

Earlier today "Puzzled", who writes the United Kingdom blog, The Dash - The Dash, posted a delightful story, one I have heard before but still enjoyed reading, about two pots, one perfect and one flawed: God Values Us, Flaws and All. This story reminded me very much of an activity that the co-director of our prayer group, a spiritual director, led us through a year or so ago. The activity, I believe, has value whenever one does it, and I think my response would be the same today. I suggest you try it, either alone or in a group. Everyone in my prayer group, regardless of their own personal response, found the activity to be self-revealing, as well as a way of learning more about each other's inner dimensions.

Here is how the activity works. First, select a Bible story. It does not matter how you select it, but select verses that cohere into a story. Then, spend a little time reflecting on that story from the point of view of one of the characters in it. You can imagine yourself as the "hero" of the story or as the victim or as God or Jesus. After you have "lived" through the story as one of the characters, you all share your experiences of the story from your "experience" as one of its characters.

When my prayer group did this activity, we chose verses from Mark 14.
3. While he [Jesus] was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as 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[a] 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. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
We each chose (without telling each other) one character to be in the verse. Then, after some reflection, we shared with each other the character we had chosen, the reason we had chosen it, and the insights it had given us about the verse. There was a good sampling of each -- Jesus, Simon, and the woman -- among our choices.

Before I tell you who I chose to be, think about the story. Who would you be in this story if you had a choice?

For our activity, I did not choose any one of these three people. I could not see myself as any of them although, I suppose, given my gender and traditional thinking, I might come closest to being the woman. However, the character of the woman did not call out to me. Neither did any of the others.

There was, however, one "character" or, perhaps better identified, "role" that did call out to me and strongly so. I chose to be the alabaster jar. Why? Oh, the answer is very simple. Consider the honor and joy of being broken for Jesus!


  1. So beautiful. Open and broken for Jesus. I'll be thinking on this all week.

    Blessings on your travels. I'm confident your speech will be great.


  2. Thanks, Pamela! The speech went very well. (I am always insecure when I am supposed to be talking about educational applications of technology and using high tech in doing so because I am not a member of the computer generation. Nonetheless, all did go well, thanks to two wonderful tech support people helping me.)

  3. Very interesting. I think I choose the jar too.