Alabaster Jar

 

Alabaster Jar-Rend Collective Experiment

I am broken at your feet, like an alabaster jar. Every piece of who I am, laid before your majesty.

I will bow my life, at your feet, at your feet. My lips so lost for words, will kiss your feet, kiss your feet.

Oh the gravity of you, draws my soul unto its knees. I will never be the same. I am lost and found in you.

I will bow my life, at your feet, at your feet. My lips so lost for words, will kiss your feet, kiss your feet.

The first time I heard this song I was struck with emotion. Does that ever happen to you? All of a sudden a song comes along and just hits you, right in the “feels” so to speak. Right where you needed to be hit. Well, this song has done that to me so many times, in so many different ways, but here, we’ll mention one, a serious metanoia moment.

This song has incredible meaning. In the base meaning of giving our lives to Christ, placing it at his feet. Being drawn to our knees to kiss his feet. However, when one looks deeper into the symbols used here, specifically the Alabaster Jar, we come to understand this song on an even deeper level.

In Biblical times an alabaster jar was the only value a young woman had outside herself.  Women were given an alabaster jar (or a jar of similar material that was valuable) in which was housed the most expensive perfume the family could afford. This jar was meant for her future husband. In the culture of new testament times, women did not have much worth. It’s an unfortunate truth, but one that we must understand in order to fully understand the context of the writings within. As such, a woman having anything of worth outside of herself (which could even be contested as non existent, but another topic for another time), even in the context to be used after marriage, is huge! It was what a woman had to give to her husband, and was meant to be broken only for him. It was all she, herself (not her father, not her family, her alone) had to give. I can’t imagine how that must have felt to have all of your worth tied to one item. Which makes what happens in the gospels that much more awe-inspiring.

3While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of 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.

4Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? 5It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly.

‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’” Mark 14:3-9 NIV (emphasis added)

The woman at Bethany gave her all, all that she had of worth in this world, to Jesus. Without hesitation, with the knowledge that she would no longer be able to give this to a future husband, she gave all of her worth to Jesus. Now there is so much more to this passage, but what I want to focus on is that concept of giving our all. Jesus declares that “She did what she could.” First of all, Jesus comes to the defense of a woman for anointing him (something that typically would have been done by a prophet or scribe, neither of which was a position a woman would have been allowed to hold). Secondly, he lauds her actions, doing what she could. That’s what God calls us to do isn’t it? Give what we can, not necessarily what we want?

This is where the song really hits me. “Every piece of who I am, laid before your majesty.” Not just the Sunday worship time, not just the when I am fully rested, not the fully put together I’m ready me. All of me, every single piece of me. Now we’ve been through this before, but I can be slightly type A, with certain things, and so to come to the Holy God of the Universe, not put together, is slightly daunting. I mean I know he can see all and has seen me at my worst, and not put together at all, but when I am coming to him, I want to have my stuff together, ya know? But here’s the beauty of it: Jesus doesn’t care. Broken and messy, come.

That’s the part of the song that literally brought me to tears. “I am broken at your feet, like an alabaster jar, Every piece of who I am, laid before your majesty.” When I first heard this song, I was not in a good place. It was my last year of undergrad; most of my close friends had graduated the year before, I felt incredibly alone, and I let myself wallow there. I was behind on homework, and cleaning, I was missing classes, I was not myself and I was not willing to ask for help. Then I was hit, like a freaking ton of bricks by this song. I remembered hearing the bible verse, so I read it, and cried some more while listening to this song basically on repeat for an hour. Then I woke up, I wasn’t this person, but I didn’t know where to go, so I did what every college senior does, I called my Mom.

Luckily for me, my Mom works at the school I went to, and she is so loving and fantastic and all-around the best. So, she came over during her lunch to let me cry on her shoulder for a bit. Then she laid it out for me, I was almost done with school, no use quitting now, that’s a waste, and I could do it, with help. If I hadn’t called my Mom that day, and if she hadn’t dedicated a Sunday to help me clean my apartment and get back to ordered life, I don’t know what my year would have turned out like. I honestly was on the verge of breaking.

All of that to say, I was broken, incredibly broken, but I wasn’t ready to get before God for help. I wasn’t clean enough, I hadn’t prayed enough the right way, I hadn’t gone to church or worshiped right. What my Mom helped remind me is the love of a parent, and how you can be broken, and a crying heap, and you are still loved. If my Mom can love me and guide me through that, how much more can my God?

I’m by no means through that season completely. After graduation I moved to an itty bitty town called Cheney, living and working in the middle of nowhere. But I’m learning, to come broken, to give my all, whatever that may be, to Christ. He will defend my little broken jar act and guide me to where I need to be, I just need to come and give it to him, I need no words, just to bow my life.

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