We have spoken before about the importance of reading scripture with open hands, and imaginative contemplation is one way of doing that. The reader places themselves in the story and engages their sense and emotions, in order to bring the action to life and create a space in which they are open to new insight and revelation. It can be as simple as reading a passage and then let the imagination take over, but a little bit of guidance can be helpful, especially if this is a new practice, so while we are on our summer break I will be offering a few written contemplations for you to use. Obviously this is a less analytical approach to the Bible than we have been taking over the past few months, but I hope it will provide some balance and refreshment.
This imagination contemplation is adapted from one written by my sister Emma, who joined us to lead the youth work at our last weekend away, and will be joining us again this year.
Take some deep breaths and enjoy the space you are in. Be still in the presence of God.
Imagine a scene. You are standing on a shore. What can you see and hear and smell? Who are you with?
A man approaches the shore and steps out of his boat with a group of friends who follow him. You look around you and see you are one of many gathered there to greet this man. You realise this is Jesus, the one people are talking about. What are you thinking? How do you feel?
You are jostled by the crowd to follow this man and his friends. What can you see around you? What are you expecting?
Suddenly a man bursts forth from the crowd and falls at the feet of Jesus. You hear him ask Jesus for help. His daughter is sick and he knows Jesus can heal her. Jesus starts to follow the man and you move after him. Why are you following? What are you thinking?
The crowd comes to a standstill. You crane to see what’s happening. Jesus has stopped moving. He is looking around for something or someone. A woman emerges from the crowd. Who is she? Why has she come forward?
You move forward in the crowd to see more of what is going on, pushing past people as you go. Why are you so drawn to the action? What are you feeling?
You hear Jesus say “your faith has healed you.” What does that mean? Who do you think this man really is?
You hear whispers in the crowd that this woman has been ill for twelve years. No physician has been able to help and no doctor has cured her but this man has the power to heal. There is a buzz in the crowd. Is she really healed? Is this man everything he says he is?
You look around and realise the crowd has gone. You look ahead and see only Jesus. You want to ask him something. What are you thinking? What are you feeling?
You walk toward Jesus and stare into his eyes. What does he look like up close? How does he make you feel?
You build up the courage to ask him a question. What is on your heart? What do you ask him?
Jesus looks at you and begins to speak. Really listen to him. What is he saying to you? What do you need to do about it?
In your own time, end this contemplation.