The First Church in Albany. Rooted in Jesus Christ and committed to the city and the people of Albany, New York. Come worship with us.
First Church in Albany
Beloved Congregation of Jesus Christ,
This Sunday is the second Sunday in Lent. We continue the series of Gospel readings from Luke on “Eating and Drinking with Jesus.” The text for this week is the story of Jesus having dinner at a Pharisee’s house when a woman “who was a sinner” shows up. She stands behind Jesus, weeping, and begins to bathe his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair (Luke 7: 36-50).
This story raises a series of questions, the first focusing on the event itself: Why did this woman behave this way? What were the reasons for her tears? Was it gratitude? Love? Sorrow? Anger? And why did Jesus react the way he did?
Second level: Why did Luke include this story in his gospel? In our culture this behavior would be considered embarrassing and unseemly. In the culture of Jesus’ day it was scandalous. Why then would Luke include a story of scandalous behavior that reflects badly on Jesus?
A third level: What does this story mean for us? Have you ever been embarrassed by somebody else’s open expression of love for Jesus? Do you sometimes secretly envy them? What brings you to tears? Are they tears for yourself? For others? Can you bring those tears to Jesus?
These are some of the questions that come to mind as I ponder this story. The sermon won’t answer all of them—perhaps none of them to anyone’s satisfaction. But I hope it may move you to ask some of your own.
After worship you are invited to join us in the parlor as we reflect on another question: “Why Did Jesus Die?” What was it about Jesus’ person or teachings that led the authorities to execute him? What does it mean to say “Jesus died for my sins?” What was accomplished by Jesus death? First Church’s resident theologian, Dr. Allan Janssen, will lead us is an exploration of these and other questions this Sunday and next.