Holy Week, Wednesday The Anointing at Bethany

John 12 1-8, which was also set for Passion Sunday this year, 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, and the others I will be posting for Holy Week are all 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 shortly to be 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’m grateful to Lancia Smith for the image above. 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.

9 Comments

Filed under imagination

9 responses to “Holy Week, Wednesday The Anointing at Bethany

  1. Pam Southam

    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.

    I am loving these sonnets for Holy Week, as always. This one is especially beautiful!

  2. Catherine Sawyer

    Wow! How beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing and for reading it to us. ❤

  4. and so it begins… 🙂

  5. Peg Cheadle

    Wow, Malcolm, I had not until now made the connection,
    But through the years caring for patients through their lives,
    Even through their season of leaving this life,
    There have been moments like this,
    especially when time and space is set aside for it.

    A gathering of family/friends around a dear one,
    sometimes with others to support and help the process.
    The alabaster jar of our hearts are broken open
    To release prayers, whispers, and caresses of comfort and caring,
    Songs or music, even laughter, may fill the room,
    and tears anoint faces, shoulders, and hands.

    And yes, there is often a sense that:
    “The heart is mourning but the spirit dances,
    Here at the very center of all things,
    Here at the meeting place of love and loss,
    We all foresee, and see beyond the cross.”

  6. Reblogged this on Pastor Michael Moore's Blog and commented:
    Poignant reflection for Wednesday of Holy Week…

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