Feb 9, 2020
The sermon was delivered on Sunday, February 9, 2020, at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by Arthur F. Carter, Jr., Ph.D., Guest Minister.
Successful organizations, institutions, and movements often have visionary leadership. When these entities fail, onlookers frequently point to leadership as the locus of failure. While not the source of hierarchy, this tendency supports top-down views of the world. Many well-intended persons regularly evaluate success from top to bottom: how does the economy work for the wealthy; how do educational systems work for the majority of students with resources; how safe is our city for the mobile, the educated and the employed? This re-reading of Mark 14.3-9 suggests that the woman who anoints Jesus with perfume reminds us how dangerously susceptible we are to replicate the systems of oppression that we claim to denounce. Mark remembers this woman as an angelic worker; her presence and actions critique our prominent top-down approaches to identity-making and history-writing. The good news (Gospel), however, is that Jesus saw her, affirmed her work, and remembers her name; The good news (Gospel) is, thus, also that each day is our own opportunity to free her story from shackled, top-down mentalities, model her labor amidst unjust systems of oppression and exploitation, and commemorate those unnamed, un-titled angels [messengers] who sustain our pursuits of love, justice, and faith.
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