By Jessica Brodie
GREENVILLE— Bringing a message on pouring out our precious gifts for our master like the sinful woman did with her perfume in the Gospel of Luke, the Rev. Angela Ford Nelson spoke to a crowded room at the Lay Servant Ministries’ Laity-Clergy Partnership Luncheon Tuesday, June 5, at Annual Conference.
The Scripture, Luke 7:36-50, details a woman who entered the house of Simon the Pharisee uninvited, washed Jesus’s feet with her tears and hair and poured out a bottle of expensive perfume from her alabaster box onto the feet of her Savior.
The Pharisee watched this occurring and scoffed to himself that such a sinner would do this. But Jesus praised her extravagant love and generosity, telling her, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
“I’ve been preaching on this for 17 years,” Nelson said, then gave her own testimony: how 17 years ago she, a businesswoman living in Greenville, was invited to preach at her home church for Laity Sunday.
“I had every reason to say no,” Nelson said, recalling how, afraid of speaking in public, she would sometimes stutter and felt comfortable in the background, not in the pulpit. “I had plenty of excuses.”
Not only that, she said, but she knew she wasn’t perfect—and she thought only “perfect” sorts of people could speak for the Lord.
“But when my pastor asked me to come and share a word from the Lord, miraculously none of those excuses could come out of my mouth,” Nelson said. “When I said yes 17 years ago, I had no idea of the adventure I would begin.”
After, she began to search “the very heart of God,” she said, a search that ultimately led to her call as a pastor today.
In Luke, the woman with the alabaster box of perfume had something extremely expensive in her arms. Back then, Nelson said, someone might have such a precious item for a very special occasion, perhaps for her wedding day.
“But when she heard about Jesus, she knew it was time to use that box, time to break it open, to pour out her gift onto the master,” Nelson said. “This woman did what very few people would do—she went to a place without an invitation from the owner. But she had an invitation from Jesus.”
We all have that invitation, Nelson said.
God ultimately showed Nelson that He works through shattered dreams and brokenness to produce a great work, whether through the sinful woman or through a clergywoman like Nelson getting her call.
She encouraged the room to take a cue from that woman in Luke and be willing to share their most precious gifts and use them for the Lord.
A witness for Jesus
Also at the luncheon, Bishop Jonathan Holston thanked the crowd of clergy and laity for doing all they do to witness Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. He said when clergy and laity are working in a way where people can see and experience it, it makes a difference
“You have a gift within you that is screaming to be heard,” Holston said, whether that involves feeding somebody who is hungry or loving somebody who is hurt or lonely. “If it is not you, then who? If it is not now, then when?”
Also at luncheon, leaders lifted up outstanding lay servants from across the state ranging in age from 14 to 102. Each of these x people received a rose corsage and a certificate of appreciation.
By Jessica Brodie