December 4, 2020

Holy Thursday at the Tea Party

mad_hatter_teapartySometimes, I’ve got nothing.

Nothing to write about. No insightful words to impart. No interesting metaphors to spark the imagination. No provocative prose, no poetry to prime the pump. I’m sitting and trying to think, but everything is fuzzy, my mind full of inchoate thoughts, like bats fluttering around in an attic.

I get the sense that these are auspicious days, that we have important things to talk about, that if we don’t we might miss the moment and the parade will have passed us by. But I’m blank, bleary, and “I don’t find this stuff amusing anymore” (Paul Simon).

I’m like the disciples on Thursday evening.

There I am, in the upper room — right there mind you — but I haven’t a clue about what’s going on.

Jesus is washing our feet (what?) and Peter is complaining (of course!).

We recline around the table and though the tension is palpable, no one can seem to put a finger on it.

Between bites Jesus is saying something about going away.

There are whispered conversations between him and individual disciples.

Every now and then I suspect covert signals are being passed, but I’m apparently outside the loop.

John leans over and whispers to the Master.

Judas leaves the room.

I keep hearing mysterious words and combinations of words, like body and bread, paracletes and orphans, branches and vines, wine and blood, joy and tribulation, judgment and the ruler of this world — what in the world is Jesus talking about?

To see him is to see the Father?

To be hated by the world is to be loved by the Father?

For Jesus to go away is better than to have him with us?

I’m in over my head and feel as clueless as Alice at a tea party.

Alice_in_Wonderland_by_Arthur_Rackham_-_08_-_A_Mad_Tea-PartyThe Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he SAID was, `Why is a raven like a writing-desk?’

`Come, we shall have some fun now!’ thought Alice. `I’m glad they’ve begun asking riddles.–I believe I can guess that,’ she added aloud.

`Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?’ said the March Hare.

`Exactly so,’ said Alice.

`Then you should say what you mean,’ the March Hare went on.

`I do,’ Alice hastily replied; `at least–at least I mean what I say–that’s the same thing, you know.’

`Not the same thing a bit!’ said the Hatter. `You might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see”!’

`You might just as well say,’ added the March Hare, `that “I like what I get” is the same thing as “I get what I like”!’

`You might just as well say,’ added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, `that “I breathe when I sleep” is the same thing as “I sleep when I breathe”!’

`It IS the same thing with you,’ said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could remember about ravens and writing-desks, which wasn’t much.

I suppose it will all make sense eventually.

I suppose I’ll find words to articulate this fog.

Maybe tomorrow, on Friday, things will be clearer.


  1. “Look at all my trials and tribulations
    Sinking in a gentle pool of wine
    What’s that in the bread it’s gone to my head
    Till this morning is this evening life is fine.”

    The Last Supper, Jesus Christ Superstar

  2. We find what we seek. We seek what we find.

    Only in English….

  3. Good friday.

  4. “Maybe tomorrow, on Friday, things will be clearer.”

    Better wait ’til Sunday…

  5. There certainly is a lot going on.

    This is one of the best sermons I have ever heard on the events going on that day:

    I think Pastor Mark does a very fine job sorting out so much of it.

    A very blessed Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday – Maundy from Maundatum [sp?] which means commandment….”A new commandment I give you…” ——- for those that didn’t know)

  6. Thanks, Steve Martin, I didn’t know. Also, today at The Lent Project ( the Stations of the Cross poem is a fabulous read.

  7. Perhaps there is much that we are not supposed to know. – Thus the reason we must live by faith. I also believe much of what we suspect we know will turn out to be wrong. Our human minds just don’t get it.

  8. Off topic – another submission for consideration to the Bulletin Board or Saturday series.

  9. This song by Steve Bell might lend some perspective.

  10. Randy Thompson says

    If nothing else, thank you for rehabilitating the term “Tea Party.”

    I’d much rather spend time with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse at their Tea Party than with the folks at other one.

    On a more serious note, I’ve often wondered where I’d be if I was present in the BIble stories I’ve read. I fear that I would have left for lunch sometime before the Lord passed out the loaves and fishes. Or that I ould have been off sightseeing in the Jerusalem Temple while the Lord prophesied its destruction.

    The really, really good news underlying The Good News is that we’re not holding on to God. God is holding on to us.

  11. Christiane says

    ‘through the Looking Glass’ AND ‘through a glass darkly’ . . . this is a great post, Chaplain MIKE

    That is a REALLY long URL, but I think it’s a wonderful article talking about how it is our subconscious that God appeals to and that it is there that God makes “sense.” The article is called “Dare to Believe that Jesus was God” by John Shore. His last statements are “If you’re a Christian who doubts the full divinity of Christ, for today and the next three days go ahead and be all in. Allow yourself to believe in the miracle of Jesus Christ really and truly being God. From such a suspension of your doubt you have nothing to lose, and just possibly everything to gain.”