The play continued. I had been shaken at the end of the morning to hear God speak so directly to me. We broke for lunch and enjoyed out picnic under the trees, but each mouthful was a reminder of God’s question to me : What else do you have for me …?. After we had eaten and reassembled at the next scene the play continued – but God was not finished with me yet …
The Play : Part 2
He was a man. I kept telling myself. Just a man – like I am an ordinary woman. He was human, fallible – just a talented actor.
As he spoke to the crowd, dressed in their long, colourful robes across the small stream; as he was standing in the boat on the small lake before us, turned toward the cast, I was comfortable, watching the play being enacted in front of me.
He was speaking his part. Just words. Familiar words. He quoted from the Gospel of Luke as he taught the cast the Beatitudes. I listened, easy with their familiarity.
Then, rocking the boat slightly, but confident in his well-practiced movements, he turned. And faced us, the audience. And paused for a beat then continued “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
And I heard the words in my heart. Watching, somewhat confused at the apparent breakthrough of God from time to time, I continued to remind myself that this was an actor – but he was reciting Scripture with a simplicity and authenticity, and , at times I heard a deeper dimension that just a man playing a part.
The story moved on. And so did the audience to another place and another scene. We knew it well, those who watched that day. The raising of Lazarus, the turning of the tables in the temple, the arrest, the trial and then – the actor took up the wooden cross and began to carry it, up the valley, up the hill. He stumbled and fell to his knees, rose and struggled on. I watched in growing dread as it became apparent that the action would move again and we would need to follow up the hill, to the scene of the crucifixion.
Just as the crowd lined the streets in Jerusalem and watched and followed Jesus up the Via Dolorosa, so we watched and then, gathering bags, blankets and chairs we rose in near silence and followed the actor up the hill.
How would I have felt if I had followed up that first hill – up to Calvary? Would my heart be full of sorrow and horror as it was now, I asked myself? Or would I have been one of those who came forward our of the crowd, out of the audience, and cried “Crucify?”
I needed to be alone for the next scene; I could not watch – and for once I wished I could not hear. Even on a stage, with ordinary men, it was too much to bear.
It is finished – and the man was taken down and placed in a tomb, where women brought jars of ointments and herbs.
And the sun came out, after a day of light rain – the tomb was found to be empty and the sun shone on the scene. Mary grieved and, from an undefined place, her name was spoken. She swung around to find the speaker – as did we.
There he was. High on the hill behind us, his startling white robe in sharp contrast to the green of the trees behind him.
He’s just a man, I remind myself again. Yet as he came down the hill he spoke to us all.
“May you be one as the Father and I are one …” and again I heard the voice of God in my heart. This was Jesus’ prayer so long ago for those who followed Him. This is Jesus’ prayer for us today.
Yes, he was just a man, this actor. But through His voice I heard the voice of God.
“Do you have any food?
Blessed are the peacemakers …
May you be one as the Father and I are one.
I need to ponder these things…