Mary, Martha and Lazarus

Today the church remembers Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, the family at Bethany who became close friends with Jesus and whose stories became intimately bound up with his.

John 12 1-8 tells us of how Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus.I love this intense and beautiful moment in the Gospels, The God of the Cosmos enters as a vulnerable man into all the particular fragility of our human friendships and intimacy. I love the way Jesus responds to Mary’s beautiful, useless gesture and recognises it as something that is always worth while, something that will live forever, for all the carping and criticism of Judas, then and now.

This sonnet is drawn from my collection Sounding the Seasons, published by Canterbury Press here in England. The book is now back in stock on both Amazon UK and USA and physical copies are also now available in Canada via Steve Bell‘s Signpost Music. The book is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of these sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great.

I am grateful to Oliver Neale for the image above and to Margot Krebs Neale for the one below. As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button

The Anointing at Bethany

Come close with Mary, Martha , Lazarus
So close the candles stir with their soft breath
And kindle heart and soul to flame within us
Lit by these mysteries of life and death.
For beauty now begins the final movement
In quietness and intimate encounter
The alabaster jar of precious ointment
Is broken open for the world’s true lover,

The whole room richly fills to feast the senses
With all the yearning such a fragrance brings,
The heart is mourning but the spirit dances,
Here at the very centre of all things,
Here at the meeting place of love and loss
We all foresee, and see beyond the cross.

6 Comments

Filed under imagination, Poems

6 responses to “Mary, Martha and Lazarus

  1. This is just so wonderful. Again, I recognise that it was the breaking of the alabaster of my heart that revealed Christ’s love to me.

  2. Good morning Miss Judy, I like this Guite poet. Wanted to share this one with you. Have a good day. On my way to the airport to pick up Susan. Jan

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. Thank you Malcolm!  I really enjoyed it .  I hope you are well, and riding your Harley to your hearts content!(I know I am!) May God continue to bless your writing ministry.

    The Rev. Craig S. FeldeLocal MissionaryChrist Lutheran Church of Clarendon HillsClarendon Hills, IL

    From: Malcolm Guite To: corsairfud@yahoo.com Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2015 4:28 AM Subject: [New post] Mary, Martha and Lazarus #yiv3237396411 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv3237396411 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv3237396411 a.yiv3237396411primaryactionlink:link, #yiv3237396411 a.yiv3237396411primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv3237396411 a.yiv3237396411primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv3237396411 a.yiv3237396411primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv3237396411 WordPress.com | malcolmguite posted: “Today the church remembers Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, the family at Bethany who became close friends with Jesus and whose stories became intimately bound up with his.John 12 1-8 tells us of how Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus.I love this intense a” | |

  4. Blanche Aitken

    Again and again your words touch my heart. Love and loss. Mary, Martha and Lazarus knew it, we know it, but so did the Sin Bearer, the Great High Priest and the Great Shepherd of the Sheep. He knows

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  5. Pingback: Ordinary Times – the Feast of St Martha (RC) and Mary, Martha and Lazarus (CofE) | twiff13

  6. I’ve spent some time in the company of this wonderful family this week; good to be close with them. Thank you for the invitation!
    Some earlier thoughts on them are at http://dcbverse.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-max=2013-02-17T22:47:00Z&max-results=8

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