Preparing For Worship – Lindsay Bruehl, intern.
April 3 is the fifth Sunday in Lent. We have been journeying through this Lenten season with inspiration drawn from Vincent van Gogh. This Sunday’s inspiration is called Shoes. An acquaintance of van Gogh’s in Paris described how he bought some old work shoes at a flea market and then walked them through the mud until they were filthy. It wasn’t until they were filthy enough that van Gogh deemed them interesting enough to paint.
I find this painting quite enchanting after learning the story that goes along with it. Considering the world we live in that is always looking for what is shiny or trying to make things shiny, what a different perspective this painting can give us. We might say we are looking for the diamond in the rough, but even still, we are looking for the diamond — not the rough. Van Gogh thought these shoes were interesting when they got filthier.
It was the season of Lent in 2016 that led me to Wilshire. I came in rough shape, but I was hungry and thirsty for the story being told at Wilshire. In a lot of ways, I have cleaned up. My internship has taught me a lot about working in a church, and seminary has sharpened my thinking skills, but this process has been messy. This painting helps me see that our story, together, is interesting because it was and is messy.
This takes me to our Gospel reading today, where Mary is anointing Jesus’ feet. She took a pound of costly perfume and wiped his feet with her hair. That sounds messy and kind of gross when reading the story at a surface level. But her act filled the house with the fragrance of the perfume, and she bought it to have on the day of Jesus’ burial. Judas, in his perceived righteousness, though actually a thief, mansplained that this perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Sometimes what looks shiny and sounds theologically correct might actually be the wrong thing. It is the getting filthy and washing our siblings’ feet that might be the very thing we need to experience the beautiful aroma of the gospel.