At home with friends – 29 July 2019
In this picture Jesus is relaxed and happy, enjoying the company and hospitality of his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They are sharing food together, sitting on the floor to eat. The four friends give attention to each other, enjoying friendship. Visually there is a space in the bottom center of the picture, so that the viewer can join them.
The home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus was an important resting place for Jesus. It was there that Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was leaving all the practical matters to her and Mary had her place of learning and discipleship affirmed, and there that Mary anointed Jesus in the days before his crucifixion. Nearby was the place where Lazarus was buried, where first Jesus wept and then raised him.
This picture is by the Malaysian artist Hanna Cheriyan Vargese, a contemporary artist at the centre of the Christian Arts networks in Asia. It imagines the times of friendship that led to these friends loving one another.
29 July is the day we commemorate Martha, Mary and Lazarus.
30 July is United Nations Friendship Day.
In this world two things are essential: a healthy life and friendship. God created humans so that they might exist and live: this is life. But if they are not to remain solitary, there must be friendship.
St Augustine, Sermon 299
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
God our Father,
whose Son enjoyed the love of his friends,
Mary, Martha and Lazarus,
in learning, argument and hospitality:
may we so rejoice in your love
that the world may come to know
the depths of your wisdom, the wonder of your compassion,
and your power to bring life out of death;
through the merits of Jesus Christ,
our friend and brother,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Collect of Mary, Martha and Lazarus
You have blessed us, O God,
with the gift of friendship,
the bonding of persons
in a circle of love.
We thank you for such a blessing:
for friends who love us,
who share our sorrows,
who laugh with us in celebration,
who bear our pain,
who need us as we need them,
who weep as we weep,
who hold us when words fail,
and who give us the freedom
to be ourselves.
Bless our friends with health,
wholeness, life, and love.
Vienna Cobb Anderson