Written by Steven Liechty
"Why wasn't this ointment sold and given to the poor?" - John 12:5
The disciples sure are picky. I think they have met some of my congregants. The ones who slap the munchkins' hands as the munchkins reach for a second donut hole during coffee hour. The ones who are sure the communion service didn't end right the last time and thus missed the appropriate experience of the transubstantiated body of Christ. Perhaps they met the ones who are sure there were more volunteers at the last Valentine's Cabaret and who arrived early to set out the pretzels, thus shaming all those who arrived late. Perhaps the disciples know the ones who swear the large print bulletin wasn't printed largely enough. Or the ones who don't think the younger members are pledging enough.
The disciples probably asked their question about why somebody was having more fun than they were because they were deep in appreciation deficit disorder. All the experts tell us every complaint is a request for connection. What to do with the picky eater? Appreciate what they did eat, and let the rest go into the compost.
Congregations are ecosystems, like a forest, tall proud trees joining fallen branches and abandoned leaves to create oxygen way beyond their means. Every now and then we need to give ointment to the grumpy, so that they can learn to smell good and smell the good. Perfume for the picky? At least it keeps you from joining them in grumping back.
O God, Turn the tables on complaints. Let us connect to the need for ointment in the complaint itself. Help the disciples get over it and get on with it. Amen.