But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, “Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.” – Acts 5:19-20 (NRSVUE)
The Book of Acts is cinematic in its storytelling, chapter after chapter inviting us to engage our full imagination to picture the setting, the mood, and the possibilities. Peter and those around him have been arrested for preaching about Jesus and the meaning of his life, death, and resurrection.
Or have they?
You see, there is more to the story. Peter and the apostles have performed healings and done signs and wonders so amazing that people have brought their sick and disabled family members to the street in hopes that Peter’s shadow will fall on them as he walks by. It’s not just their preaching and teaching that terrifies the authorities.
Just as the stories of King Arthur have been retold in styles ranging from musical theatre (Camelot) to mystical realism (Excalibur), we might imagine the moment when angels open the prison doors in varied ways. Perhaps we inhabit the angels’ eye view; or we stand with the guards who, like Imperial Stormtroopers, are misdirected by Obi-Wan Kenobi; or in documentary style, we are among the apostles inside a locked room wondering what will happen in the morning.
Cinéma vérité is the form I wish for, that point of view that makes the viewer a fly on the wall. What did Peter and the others think? Were they afraid, or did they feel sure God would free them? Were they remembering the crucifixion, or holding onto the resurrection?
Holy One, open the doors of whatever holds us in place. Open us to your truth and your possibilities, in Christ’s name. Amen.