Bringing dead words to life
Luke 23 verses 50 to 56
I am part of ‘St Albans Companions’ a local community of the worldwide Christian Life Community (CLC). For the past 3 years, our community have used the Gospel of Luke as the basis of our contemplations. We designate a set of verses for the two weeks in between our meetings. It is a slow a process but slow is part of contemplation, ‘You stay with what you are reading until you are moved on.’
The designated verses for the last two weeks were verses 50 to 56 of Luke. Actually, I had gone ahead of the group and it was the previous number of verses. A social event which we had a month ago postponed our reflections but I moved on regardless.
It is probably best if I give you the verses,
The Burial of Jesus
50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
New International Version
Fresh from the Summer School I had in my head the Bibliodrama technique which we had used to ‘bring alive the characters’. So as I contemplated this passage I found myself fusing together this technique with what is referred to in Ignatian spirituality ( which is the school in which CLC is based) as the ‘contemplative imagination’.
I asked myself the following questions after which I include the answers that came.
Who was the captain? I am Gaius I am from Rome I have two children and a wife but I haven’t seen them for a time because I have been here. I have watched this guy. I have heard about him. I was indifference though he made the place more interesting we were never sure whether he was against us our the Jewish rulers or both.
Who were the women? we were the women of Galilee who he esteemed. Mothers, sisters, daughters. Jesus always wanted to lift us up when we were marginalised. In protecting us we wanted to protect him. He had many mothers, sisters and daughters.
Who were the spectators? We are bored and turn up at anything different. Crucifixions are all different but this one exceptionally so. We had all heard of him, we all had different opinions on him some of us wanted to see him die instead of us. We all knew it come to us. Some of us wanted to see whether he would blast the place with his miracles. He didn’t but the place did turn dark for 3 hours. There was something about his death that left us all feeling more dead than alive.
Who was Joseph? I was active on the Jewish council. I had met once before and he was simply kind in how he greeted me. I hadn’t realised who he was until after the event. That impression stayed with me when I heard much bad press about him.
Who was Pilate? I was born into privilege my father and his father were part of the ruling class of Rome. I got the job because of whose son I was. For me, Jesus was the problem of the day and I did what I do, I made a decision.
You may never have read a portion of Luke or you may be a frequent reader I am curious to know whether these types of techniques help you bring what can seem like ancient history to life.