Skip to main content

new collage: joseph of arimathea


"joseph of arimathea"
mixed media collage (found papers, vintage papers, gesso, acrylic paint, glue) on stretched canvas
march 2013
gregory a. milinovich


here is my latest installment in the collage series i'm doing for lent, which is my creative response to our evening series at church, "in search of resurrection," in which we are looking at different characters and how badly they - and we - need the resurrection of Jesus to be real and true. 

last night we talked about joseph of arimathea, whom we often think of as a kind and good man, boldly going to pilate to ask for Jesus' body after the crucifixion, and then taking the body of the Lord and preparing it for burial, and generously placing it in his own tomb.  but we sometimes fail to remember that he was a "prominent member of the council," that is, the sanhedrin, or high court of the Jewish law.  it was a gathering of the who's who of Jerusalem leaders in those days, and Joseph was not only an active member who had paid his dues, but a prominent member.  this makes him seem all the more respectable until we remember that it is this same "council" - the sanhedrin - that held a late night "trial" for Jesus at Caiaphas' home, a trial with no real witnesses and no real evidence.  it was an illegal trial, a morally wrong one, and it ended with a completely unjust guilty verdict.  and yet no one spoke up.  there is no evidence that joseph from arimathea, this sometimes bold and generous popular figure, had anything to say for biting his tongue and gazing at his shoes.  why?  we can only assume he was scared of all he would lose: reputation, career, even his life?  scared of ruffling feathers, he kept his mouth shut, and then tried to act out his discipleship in secret, by night. 

so perhaps he isn't the admirable figure we may have thought.  but before we protest to vociferously, let us examine ourselves with the same scrutiny: don't we do the same thing? 

don't we often try to be disciples "by night?"  aren't we guilty of being generous with our praise and maybe even our money on sundays, but far more stingy with our words on monday?  aren't we guilty of boldly offering our service to our church or to a volunteer organization, but when it comes to standing up for a victim against the bully, or excusing ourselves from a situation of gossip, we are suddenly gripped by cowardice?  aren't we scared of ruffling feathers?  of disturbing the status quo?  of offending someone?  of being labeled as a ignorant christian, or a bible-thumper?  of seeming weird or different?  aren't we terrified of what people might say? 

like joseph of arimathea, we can be great disciples in the dark, offering exquisite gifts (75 pounds of spices?), but it is often misplaced generosity, offered from the places of comfort and security, rather than at the real moment of need.  like joseph, we can sometimes find great courage to follow Jesus, but it is often too little too late, for in those moments when courage is most needed, we have been too scared to speak up and too fearful to follow. 

that's why we, like joseph, need resurrection.  we need this Jesus to pop up from the grave and verify everything that he said, and that the saints have said about him: that there is forgiveness and mercy.  that there is redemption.  that our cowardice can be redeemed for courage. that our stinginess can be exchanged for generosity.  once we receive the love of calvary and the miracle of the empty garden tomb, we cannot really help but be bold and free in sharing this good news, can we? 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

#thoughtsandprayers

i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

a divided tree

there is a tree in my back yard.  i'm pretty sure it's an oak tree.  at least that's what i think Shannon told me.  i don't know my oaks from my maples, my elms from my locusts.  to me, it's a tree: a corinthian column bursting up into life and glory.  full of sap and pulp and rings and bugs and cells pulsing with water and always reaching for something.  it is full of rhythm, reach and flourish then fall and die, and repeat. 

this particular tree, though, isn't of one mind. 

half of it's rusted orange leaves have given up their grip and surrendered -gracefully or not - to the pull of gravity and the threat of winter.  the north side of this inauspicious oak is just about bare naked, all sticks and straight lines, a skeleton of itself.  but the side that looks south is stubbornly resisting change.  no longer green, the leaves have compromised their summer vibrancy, but they are clearly not ready to concede death just yet. 

i feel like i can relate to this …

thankful right now

"if the only prayer you ever say in your life is 'thank you,' it will be enough." -Meister Eckhart

"thanksgiving is inseparable from prayer." -John Wesley

i've been thinking about gratitude quite a bit this week, and how to foster a thankful spirit in the midst of the barrage of bad news that for me is punctuated by yet another "breaking news" notification on my phone, interrupting the busyness of my day to rudely remind me that the world's brokenness knows nothing of limits or boundaries, not to mention my schedule or sanity.  still, the bad news keeps coming. 

i just scrolled through my most recent notifications just from the last few days and they contain phrases like "crimes against humanity," "57 million users hacked, but not reported," "alleged pattern of sexual abuse," and "extremely disturbing," just to name a few.  how am i supposed to be present at a staff meeting when my phone is buzzing …