January 28, 2021

lent 5 — life and death and food and wine…

From a poster for Fellini’s Amarcord

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.

• John 12:1-2

i’m not sure i can imagine an odder scene
a miracle man with a fork in his hand
smiling and eating his greens

or what of his sisters two?
one runs in and out of the kitchen
carrying dishes of stew
one raids the family treasury
the unthinkable to do

and what of their invited friends?
one speaks up indignantly
missing both means and ends

and what of those observing
this strange, bizarre affair?
how could it not be unnerving?
and to those opposed it all confirms
a murderous path unswerving

it’s life and death and food and wine
and scents the air all filling
it’s grateful tears and curious looks
false piety and shilling
it’s plots of killing
and jesus willing to embrace it all

i’m not sure i can imagine an odder day
except for each one since, with all it carries
on the dying and rising way

• • •

For further consideration, read Will Willimon’s Dinner with Jesus


  1. Christiane says

    “I have had to learn to love the Gospel of John and the way it refuses to be managed by my intellect.

    Jesus, as John recalls him, reminds you of the Jesus we meet in the Synoptics—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—but this is Jesus as Christ taken up to the tenth degree. Somehow John’s Jesus manages both to be strange and remote and also intimate and close at hand. I have found Jesus to be paradoxically no more distant from us and no nearer to us than when he is at table with us.”

    (William Willimon, ‘Dinner with Jesus’)

    an interesting comment from the author, this: “”I have had to learn to love the Gospel of John and the way it refuses to be managed by my intellect.”

    is it possible we have tried ‘too much’ to pick apart the sacred Scriptures intellectually, instead of allowing them a chance to be what they are: ‘sacred’ ? Sacred, set apart, but able to help us climb up on to higher ground, ‘not by our own understanding’ but because they are gifted from The Word?

    I like how Will Willimon has expressed his own encounter with the Gospel of St. John, which seems a distinct contrast to the harsh ways of the fundamentalists ‘Inerrancy’ interpretations, in that Willimon’s words acknowledge that there is something in sacred Scripture able to touch the reader at a much deeper spiritual level than the proud and shallow pronouncements of fundamentalist ‘inerrantists’ who claim a ‘clear understanding’ of what is THANKFULLY beyond their abilities to control.

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