Have you ever noticed the “virtue windows” in the sanctuary narthex, where the doors lead us out to Dakota Avenue? Their unique messages and designs have always caught my eye, including this window celebrating the virtue of prudence.
Prudence is one of those quiet, unassuming virtues that doesn’t get much attention in our modern culture, but I see this positive quality displayed in the lives of many of the folks I have come to care about at First Lutheran. When one exhibits prudence, one is behaving cautiously, wisely, and diligently—with a regard for the future.
These are the grounds on which Judas attacks Mary of Bethany in this Sunday’s Gospel reading. He observes her anointing Jesus’ feet with costly perfume, and he (like a 90’s era Dana Carvey imitating President George H.W. Bush) waggles his finger and accuses, “That’s not prudent!” He points out that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor—a bogus objection considering he was the one who regularly helped himself from the disciples’ common purse.
Jesus defended Mary’s extravagant, generous gift. In doing so, perhaps Jesus shows us there is a need to be prudent with the use of prudence. It is good and right to live one’s life wisely and diligently, with a regard for the future and a healthy dose of self-control. But there are times when God’s love may compel us to actions that are less than prudent—especially for the sake of blessing others.
The act of love given by Mary to Jesus—as she anointed his feet just before his burial—was beautiful and right, but it wasn’t prudent. So too, the love Jesus has for his own is not exactly prudent. The selfless, gracious mercy he gave to sinners would cost him his life.
With this prodigal love of God in mind, I’ll be preparing my sermon for Sunday. Join me in pondering, and I hope to see you in church this weekend.
P.S. Seminarian Adam Guthmiller will be delivering the sermon on Saturday, and I’ll be preaching on Sunday. Consider attending the Saturday service at 5 p.m., and come again to one of our services at 8, 9:30, or 11 on Sunday morning (and don’t forget we have the 11 o’clock KSFY broadcast and YouTube channel as well). Attending two services over the weekend, hmm. Wouldn’t be prudent….but could be good for the soul!