If you’re a student of television shows such as “Downton Abbey,” then you are likely familiar with the way people are introduced at a formal dinner or reception. They pause at the door, the butler makes some noise to command attention, and they are “announced,” often along with title, relationship to the host, or some accomplishment.
- “Lord Jones of Kent; Ambassador to China.”
- “Mr. Smith of Atlanta; cousin to our host.”
- “Dr. Love of Paris; winner of the Nobel Prize.”
Maybe you’re an actual “important” personage, and have been announced that way yourself? Or maybe you’ve wondered how you might be introduced if the occasion arose? It would be an interesting exercise to write out our own introduction, and to ask someone else to write one for us, then see how they compare.
LAZARUS: The title of today’s reading in Reaching Toward Easter suggests an introduction for the New Testament character Lazarus. If you recall, Lazarus is the man Jesus had invited back into life from the grave. When the Great Teacher returns to Bethany, you-know-who is there among the guests.
Can you imagine the announcement? “(Cough, cough…) Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce Lazarus of Bethany; until recently, dead!”
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. – John 12:1-2
I’ve often imagined being a guest at dinner with Jesus. Of course the Last Supper always comes to mind; simply absorbing the presence of Jesus, drinking from the cup, breaking off a chunk of that bread, feeling the profound weight of the moment, listening to the Master deliver some of the greatest sound-bytes offered in the entire history of human thought.
But this gathering at Bethany – just before Jesus walked into Jerusalem with his heart wide open, understanding what was about to transpire, one last deep breath before the coming storm – it must have been something special.
There is peace around the table; good friends hanging out with Jesus, enjoying the Master’s presence. And look who’s there! Lazarus; until recently, dead!
This Easter story is all about living completely, radically and consummately; it’s about living faith out loud. Living as if we mean it is a theme of mine at the moment. That is, after all, why Jesus was willing to give absolutely everything for the very people he was with as he reclined for that meal.
He did that for me, and he did it for you. We are welcome at his table.
PRAYER: We know how important it is to be still and tune in to your voice, God. Help us to re-prioritize and schedule more time at the table with Jesus. Amen
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