For this retreat, we will be engaging in a practice called Gospel Contemplation or Gospel Meditation. Gospel Contemplation is a way of getting to know and meeting Christ in the Gospels. The ultimate goal is personal encounter with Him. It is a practice that involves placing yourself in the scene of a Gospel account and engaging in the sights, sounds, smells and even emotions of the story. It is a way of “living into” a passage of Scripture with all your senses and imagination.
We will be visiting our passage in John 20, focusing on verses 11 through 16.
Before we do, take some time to ask God to reveal Himself to you through these words of Scripture. Let yourself settle into an expectant stillness.
Begin by familiarizing yourself with the passage as you read it several times slowly, meditatively.
11 But Mary [who had returned] was standing outside the tomb sobbing; and so, as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 And they said to her, “Woman, why are you crying?” She told them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 After saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? For whom are you looking?” Supposing that He was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you are the one who has carried Him away from here, tell me where you have put Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).
Close your eyes as you continue to allow the events of the narrative to unfold in your mind, and the details of the scene to take shape. Sometimes replaying it as if it were a movie helps as you picture what you would see and hear, smell and even taste if you were there.
As you sit with Mary outside the tomb, what do you notice about the surroundings, the atmosphere, the feel of it all? Paint the scene as vividly as you can, spending unhurried time as you do.
How do you picture Mary as she is crying? What might her posture be? Again, engage your senses as to what it might sound like and sound like? What could she be thinking and feeling? What are you thinking and feeling as an empathic witness to her pain? What could it have been like to encounter the angels in this moment? What strikes you about what the angels say and Mary’s response?
Now spend some time paying attention to Jesus. What do you notice about Jesus’ response to Mary’s tears? What is the quality and tone of voice that you sense? Picture the moment Jesus says Mary’s name. Linger in that moment. What would it feel like to hear Jesus say your name in a moment like this? How do you find yourself reacting or responding to the things Jesus says and does?
Allow your reactions to become the starting point of a conversation with Christ. Speak your heart to Jesus about what you experienced through the gospel account. Notice where you are drawn deeper into God’s presence and love. No need to hurry past. Stay and share with Him as much as you need.
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