Worshipping with Mary of Bethany
Carolyn and I are looking forward to being with you all for this convocation of the diocese of Christ our Hope at Roanoke this November. We know many of you, and we certainly feel a kinship with you in ministry as fellow Anglicans and followers of Christ. For our sessions together on the Friday, we are hoping you will think of the time together as a small retreat, a time to be focused spiritually and to connect your own inner life in Christ with your vocation in service. To this end, we have chosen to focus on the intimate encounter of Christ with his friends in a simple domestic setting. When we think of Jesus and his disciples, we usually think of the twelve who traveled with him in his public ministry and who were uniquely called by him and designated his apostles (Luke 6: 13-16). However, we might also think of the three who were his friends and whose home he visited on at least three occasions.
When we first encounter them, it is with the words, “Martha opened her home to him” (Luke 10: 38). We meet Martha and her sister Mary and (later) their brother Lazarus. We might think of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus therefore as the domestic disciples. Indeed, Jesus refers to Lazarus as “our friend Lazarus” (John 11: 11), and the three are together described as uniquely beloved by him: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (John 11: 5).
In this short retreat, then, we would like to help you to “open your home” to the Lord Jesus Christ and to consider what it might mean to invite him into this most intimate space. What does it mean to be befriended by Jesus Christ and beloved by him in the most interior way? We are most definitely called to follow him in the world as disciples and to share in his public mission. But we are also called to receive him and allow him to enter in and make his home with us. He still says, as he did to the church at Laodicea, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3: 20). Is there any invitation more wonderful or more sacred? To have table fellowship with Jesus Christ, to be permitted to be his host, to welcome him, and have him for our guest?
It is at home, behind closed doors, where we dare to voice our greatest hopes and fears, where we experience our deepest joys and sorrows. It is at home where we are known most intimately and fully. In the Gospels, the Lord Jesus chose to visit Martha, Mary, and Lazarus in their ordinary home and to enter fully into their messy lives. There were all the challenges of busyness, distraction, suffering, loss, and betrayal. Yet, on all three occasions, his presence made all the difference. We know what it is to feel pressure on the fault line between private and public, and we hope this retreat will strengthen us all to find Jesus more than enough for all these challenges.
We will consider all three domestic disciples at home in the village of Bethany, but we will focus the spotlight especially on Mary and invite you to follow her in her response to Jesus. Whatever your age or stage of life, whether male or female, whether young or old in Christ, you can be strengthened in faith, hope, and love. By placing yourself there with Mary at the feet of Jesus, you can pray with Mary of Bethany and make her wholehearted response your own.
In addition to Bruce's piece above, listen to the podcast I recorded with he and Carolyn below!
I spent some time getting to know Bruce and Carolyn better and hearing their heart for the time they'll spend with us at Convocation and Synod.
Listen to the interview with Bruce and Carolyn
Register for Convocation and Synod