I think that gives us permission to be extravagant. Not selfishly extravagant. Not self-indulgent. But when Jesus says that Mary has done a good thing by spending a year’s worth of wages to make a poor homeless man who’s about to die smell good—that’s an invitation to the church to go and do likewise.
What would extravagant worship look like, if we used Mary’s gift to Jesus as an example? What would our worship space look like, sound like, feel like, even smell like, if Mary’s gift to Jesus is our guide? What about our life together as a church? Our sense of community, of fellowship, of family? What might it mean to welcome each other extravagantly, if Mary’s welcome of Jesus has anything to say about it? And what about our ministries to our community? To our neighbors? To strangers? To the poor? The homeless? The lost? The hurting? The lonely? What might it mean if, when we started imagining how we will reach out to others, we remembered that Mary poured out a year’s worth of wages on a homeless man who was going to be dead within a week?
What if the point of the story—the message Jesus wants us to take from it—is that nothing we offer in the name of loving God with all our heart and being and will and ability; and loving our neighbor as ourselves; no matter how extravagant it seems; is ever wasted?