I was recently at a funeral for the elderly relative of a dear friend. It was a beautiful service – Scripture readings and songs from the woman’s great-grandchildren, glorious choral and congregational music, and moving eulogies by both her daughters. Lois Jeane had been a lifelong Christian who brought her husband to faith and raised four children in a loving, creative, God-honoring home.
When the pastor rose to give the sermon, he compared Lois Jeane to several characters in the Bible. Like Sarah, she had shown great faith. Like Esther, she had tremendous courage. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, she had been obedient to God. But, he said, the Biblical characters that Lois Jeane most resembled were three ordinary women – the three who were first at the tomb on that surprising Sunday after his death.
You see, these three – whom Mark names as Salome, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of James – were going to anoint Jesus’ body. In the midst of their grief and bewilderment, they went to the market in preparation for the next morning. They bought spices and rose early the next day. As they ascended the steep path, they expected to find things as they had been left, with a heavy stone blocking their way. They even wondered aloud how they would move it to perform the task to which they had assigned themselves. But out of sheer love, they journeyed on, faithful to the calling to anoint the body of Christ.
And Lois Jeane? Her pastor marveled at how often Lois Jeane had spoken words of encouragement to him. Her friends told him stories of her devotion to the Body – her own money, time, and energy freely given to those around her. The positivity she brought to every interaction. And all in the service of strengthening her family, her fellow worshippers, and church leadership. She did these things out of an abundance of love for the Church, without any expectation for a return.
What would it look like to be like Lois Jeane? To be like Salome and the two Marys? How might we anoint the Body of Christ with our own love and encouragement?