More / Book of the Month / Maria (Mary) Dumba Funeral Sermon - Psalm 23:5 June 18th 2022 / You Anoint My Head with Oil

Maria (Mary) Dumba Funeral Sermon - Psalm 23:5 June 18th 2022 / You Anoint My Head with Oil




Maria (Mary) Dumba Funeral Sermon - Psalm 23:5 June 18th 2022 / You Anoint My Head with Oil

Maria (Mary) Dumba Funeral Sermon / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sat. June 18th 2022: Season of Pentecost / Psalm 23 "You Anoint My Head with Oil"

          The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

                   He makes me lie down in green pastures.

          He leads me beside still waters.

                   He restores my soul.

          He leads me in paths of righteousness

                   for His name’s sake.       

          Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

                   I will fear no evil,

          for You are with me;

                   Your rod and Your staff,

                   they comfort me.

          You prepare a table before me

                   in the presence of my enemies;

          You anoint my head with oil;

                   my cup overflows.

          Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

                   all the days of my life,

          and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

                   forever.

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.

Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. King David in Psalm 23 says of his Good Shepherd, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows,” this oil is not motor oil, it’s not the kind of oil you pump out of the ground: it’s actually olive oil, and you don’t need a geologist to get at it, or drills, or oil derricks, it requires no petro-chemical refineries. Now the olive oil mentioned in Psalm 23 has had many uses over time, in the Old Testament it was used in cooking and in household and agricultural work, it was even used to anoint Kings and Levitical Priests, David himself would have used it as a shepherd while he cared for his father’s flocks of sheep and it was applied to the young David by the prophet Samuel in his kingly anointing.[1] In the Greco-Roman world, into which Jesus was born, olive oil was used like soap (this is the sort of historical detail Mary would have enjoyed) to help loosen and remove dirt from the body which makes some sense when we think about how it has been used by many Christians at baptism. When olive oil is used in baptism its called chrismation, Mary most likely would have received this blessing with oil at her baptism — the sign of the cross traced upon her head and heart — to symbolize the sealing with the Holy Spirit for salvation[2] which was being delivered to her in Christ by the grace of God the Father. 

While the Greco-Roman world may have used olive oil and water to wash up we as Christians confess that baptism is more than washing the body clean of dirt: for baptism is, “the word of God in and with the water [commanded by Jesus which provides forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation], along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For,” as the Small Catechism teaches, “without God’s word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a lifegiving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, [just] as St Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.”[3][4]

Through the ages olive oil has been entwined with baptism and the life of the Church and the Christian. Often in a person’s last days or whenever a person is sick and may yet recover I come to them and anoint them with oil to remind them of the promises of their baptism. Saint James teaches this saying “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”[5] Now I was not able to be with Mary in the end but I trust that the Lord has given her all the things He promised her in her baptism namely the forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and eternal salvation in Christ Jesus along with Christian faith. Dear ones our Lord Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd, He is the Good Shepherd of Palm 23 and in the Gospel of Saint John while speaking about this Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”[6] Dear ones if you are not raised up from your sick bed, remember Saint John in his Gospel as Jesus is speaking is providing you a heads up on a very important double meaning here being raised up is not only something that can happen from your sick bed but also from your grave; as a Christian therefore you can trust the promise of Jesus who said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on The Last Day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on The Last Day.”[7]

When the anointed King David writes,

“You prepare a table before me

                   in the presence of my enemies;

          You anoint my head with oil;

                   my cup overflows.

          Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

                   all the days of my life,

          and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

                   forever,”

David prophetically writes this about the promised Christ both pointing forward to the coming Jesus while also acknowledging that this same Jesus, who was yet still pre-incarnate at that time, was doing these very things for David in his own life as a believer in God and as a King of Israel. Keeping this in mind it is this same Christ Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who does these things for us in our lives today, and it is likewise this same Christ Jesus, our Good Shepherd who has done these things for Mary all the days of her long life.    

The table prepared for the feast, the oil anointed head, the overflowing cup are all part of what Jesus does for us in this life while at the same time a promise of what is coming for us in the hereafter, in our heavenly home which He prepared for us in His crucifixion[8] turning the brutal wooden beams of the cross, and Him nailed to it, into the very door through the shadow of the valley of death into eternal life through which we all walk. The table prepared for the feast, the oil anointed head, the overflowing cup are all part of the promised feast to come in our heavenly home[9] and yet when you are content and thankful in this life you can look at all that God has given you and you can see the earthly blessings God gives each of us.

So while Mary has been anointed with the olive oil of chrismation you could also say that she was anointed with the oil of the oil field, the kind that is pumped from the ground and into tanks and shaped and molded into a variety of useful products and as a result of her work in the oil industry her cup, by the grace of God, certainly overflowed. Her generosity spilled over from what God had given her in her life onto you all. Now consider how it is that the generosity of God, in Christ Jesus, which He has lavished upon Mary in her baptism, is now spilling over onto you this day: an overflowing cup of righteousness that is for you as much as it was for her. Remember your baptism, cherish your faith in Christ, and if you are yet to be baptised … come to the waters and receive all the gifts God has in store for you. And also remember what Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of the Gospel Mark: “Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved.”[10]

Today with all the troubles of this world and all the troubles of long age, including dementia and alzheimer's, with all of those things passed away Mary in Christian faith with a clear and sharp mind renewed now by God, along with all the faithfully departed and King David, can say of Jesus her Good Shepherd, ‘You have most certainly anointed my head with oil; my cup by Your grace continually overflows. Surely goodness and mercy has indeed followed me all the days of my life, and thanks to You dear LORD, I shall dwell in Your house forever,” Dear ones take heart and hold fast to this same faith. Amen.    

Let us pray:

Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] 1 Samuel 16:1-13
[2] Eph. 1:13-14
[3] Titus 3:5–8
[4] The Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Luther’s Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2017, Pg 23-24.
[5] James 5:13–15
[6] John 10:27–30
[7] John 6:37–40
[8] John 14:1-3
[9] Isaiah 25:6; Revelation 7:16-17; Revelation 19:7-9
[10] Mark 16:16

Photo Credits: Main Photo provided by the Dumba family and Mount Olive Lutheran Church; detail of Michelangelo's David from unsplash; detail of olive oil from pexels; detail of olives on the branch from pexels; detail of oil derricks from unsplash and baptism from schultzphotographic.


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