Today is the feast day of Joseph of Arimathea. St. Mark's gospel (15:42-46) says:
When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.
Matthew's gospel (27:57-60) adds the detail that the tomb was the property of Joseph. He says, "So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock." Luke and John mention that Nicodemus assisted with the burial.
Medieval tradition has it that Joseph went to England with the chalice (the "holy grail") from which Jesus drank on the night in which he was betrayed and that Joseph started a church in Glastonbury. From a distance of this many years, we have no proof of that, but we can celebrate Joseph's courage and devotion to our Lord Jesus because he, along with Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night, had the good grace to give Jesus a decent burial.
The Rev. Linda McCloud
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek