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Thursday, 1 April 2010

Blogging towards Easter 4 - dreams and suffering

Samuel Wells gives a chapter to a fourth character who has only a minor supporting role in the Gospels, Mrs Pilate. She is only mentioned in one verse but Wells nevertheless draws out some reflective speculation that throws light on issue of the extent to which our perceptions of power and powerlessness  are less straight forward than they seem to those of us, say public servants who compare our power with those who are above us up the ladder, the Secretary of the Department, not those who have to comply with the rules and regulations that we create and enforce in order to access the services in our community.

Wells imaginatively explores the extent and the character of the power that Pilate's wife would have had and tries to unpack what might lie behind this extraordinary intervention into the public life of her husband. Wells focuses his reflections on the issues of dreams and suffering.

Dreams in the Bible are an inbreaking of God's future into the circumstances of the present. They unsettle the proud ... They vindicate God's chosen ... They involve even Gentiles in the discovery of God's strange, relentless providence ... And yet they do not coerce, destroy or manipulate. they simply draw back the veil between heaven and earth disclosing the purposes of God and the mysterious ways God's purpose takes shape in the lives of his people. For the powerful they are something to fear but for the powerless dreams are a point of contact with the place where true power lies. (p.116)
On the question of suffering her statement that "I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him" suggests that she has shared in Jesus's passion. Had she caught a vision of Jesus and the conflict between him and the driving powers and values of the Roman Empire that leaves her caught between who she is and the claims of an inbreaking kingdom whose justice calls th empire into question?

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