This was my sermon for this morning at church. I used an earlier blog, My Anguish with Luke 7:36-50 and Psalm 46:10-11and created this message. I hope it inspires you and you enjoy it.
When I first started attending this church I was searching. I came and I sat on this side, over here. It was a good seat. I can remember watching the children’s moment and I would begin to pray to God that I would have children, lots of them. There were days I ached to be a mother. I wasn’t more than 20, and I really didn’t know what being a mother meant. I would soon find out. See, I was dating a really great guy. I knew him from junior high school. We were good friends. Between high school and me going to college, he had married, went into the Army, had two great kids and came back home divorced. We started dating.
Do you remember the story read from scripture? This woman was in Simon’s house. She was not a reputable woman. She was a sinner!! Not just any sinner either. She was a woman about town. And here she was in Simon’s house. Scripture says she was standing at Jesus’ feet behind Him. Have you ever wondered how that could be? I was watching a video from Adam Hamilton and he explained it/showed it. So I want to show you. See, they were sitting on the floor in a lounging position with their feet to one side and one arm holding the upper body. Jesus was sitting in such a position that she could be standing behind Him and at His feet.
I want you to envision this. She was kissing His feet. They didn’t have socks and shoes. People were either barefoot or wore sandels. Can you imagine what shame, what guilt this woman must have felt in order to enter the presence of these men, of Jesus, and cry over His feet. In order for her hair to brush His feet, she had to be low to the ground. Yet there she was.
It was customary for a host to provide water for a guest to wash their feet. Simon had not provided that water. This woman did, her tears. The towel she provided was her hair.
Here was this woman coming into Simon’s house, crying over Jesus, washing His feet with her tears and wiping them dry with her hair. She anoints His feet with oil. Throughout this she is kissing His feet. She doesn’t say a word. she comes into this room full of men and says nothing. She cries at His feet, kissing them and pouring oil on them. Whatever burden she was carrying, whether it was guilt, depression, loss, whatever it was put her on her knees. She had to be desperate because at any time she could be kicked out. She said nothing because what she was carrying inside her was so heavy.
But what is even more profound, is Jesus did not speak to her. He did not acknowledge her. He knew where she was but, He knew her pain to be so great, her feelings of shame and guilt to be so great that she could not speak.
Have you ever been so ashamed, in so much pain, so filled with guilt that you wanted to be alone and be comforted at the same time? Has life bent you down low? That’s how life is sometimes. Sometimes all we want to do is hide ourselves and cry at the feet of Jesus kissing His feet because it’s our last stop our last hope.
I have. I have been this woman.
I stood there in the dark silence of the chapel with the stain glass face of Christ looking in at the pews. His hole pierced hands showing an anguish I felt. No one was here, not in this space or time, yet sounds of a movie floated above me from the back wall. I did not approach God straight on, I walked down the side aisle, as far away from His face, my head down with my hair falling around my face – hiding my shame.
“Why? Why me God? What did I do that is so different then everyone else? What did I do that was so wrong?” It was not a whisper but a cry that came welling up from my soul. “How can you do this to me? This is not supposed to happen to me! I am a good girl. I do not want this baby. I cannot be pregnant. Why me? I didn’t do anything different than anyone else. Take this cup from me!”
There was no answer. The stillness crept into my porous soul, which I was trying to cement shut. I raged at God. I shook my fist into the air, crying out to the God who would not speak. The stained glass Jesus said nothing, but His hole pierced hands spoke to my anguish. The only sounds were those of my soul feeling betrayed. My shame oozed into the very recesses of my heart and the guilt overcame me. I found myself prostrate in front of the alter with stain glass Jesus standing over me. His expression never changed. His anguish bleed into my mind, reminding me of His humanness.
“Pass this cup from me Lord, if it is Your will. I cannot do this alone. I am so sorry for my sin,” rippled repeatedly off of my tongue. Time was warped. I was there for minutes, hours, a life time. I pulled myself off the rough carpeted floor. I was wishing, hoping, someone would walk in and offer that act of humanness that God could not give. No one came.
Slowly as I stood there, I felt I was not alone. I turned around and looked into the darkness carefully, yet I couldn’t find anyone. The very air changed. A calmness washed over me. I was surrounded by angels. I could not see them but the sense of them was so palpable I could breathe it into my soul. “Hush. Shhh daughter. Be still and know God is here.”
I could not hear Christ because I could not release my guilt, but I could feel His messengers. I was single and pregnant and in college. I felt alone because I was afraid that my parents would stop loving me. I was afraid they would disown me. If my parents didn’t want me, how could God want me? I was unworthy of His love. God’s angels placed me in the protective sphere of His guardians. I was not alone. He had not abandoned me. I became still. God was there even though I didn’t feel Him.
I want to stop here and pause and go back to scripture. During the whole conversation Jesus has with Simon, the woman is weeping, anointing Christ’s feet and kissing them. And Christ does not say anything to her, does not acknowledge her presence. Yet He is there. But this is not the only time Christ was in the company of an ill-reputed woman and did not say anything to her directly.
In John 8:2-12, a woman is brought before Him by the scribes and Pharisees, caught in the act adultery. They are ready to stone her. For Adultry. He writes in the sand and says, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” He bent down again and wrote in the sand. The men left. And it was just Christ and this sinful person.
See, I am these women. I find myself in their stories. I am the woman in deep shame and guilt, crying at the feet of Jesus. I am the woman waiting to be stoned for my sin.
Yet what is Christ’s words to these women. Go in peace, sin no more. Your faith has saved you.
In that darkened chapel that night, I knew Christ was present. He calmed my spirit. While we don’t know the rest of the story for these women in the Bible, we know where I am. I am right here in this place and time.
God has given me peace. It is the same peace He offers you. What I learned in that darkened chapel that night is that Jesus is with me. Some believe He died on the cross in place of us, or to carry our sins away. But I believe it is more than this. In that darkened chapel I learned that Jesus was with me. He died so he could be with us. He is with us when we are committing our sins. He is with us when shame and guilt consume us. He is with us when we confess and seed repentance. He is with us when we celebrate our arrival out of darkness. He is with us when we are singing and dancing and praising His name. He is with us in our joy.
Right now the Holy Spirit may be calling to you to committ your life to Him, or maybe you’re being called to renew your committment. For some of you, this is a time to be with Jesus, and for others this is a time to dance and celebrate. Regardless of where you are in your walk, Be still and know God is with you.