Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Dr. Pat Saxon
Prayer Ministry Volunteer
Be born in me, be born in me. Trembling heart, somehow I believe that you chose me. I’ll hold you in the beginning. You will hold me in the end. Every moment in the middle make my heart your Bethlehem. Be born in me. Francesca Battistelli
For centuries artists and people of faith have been imagining into that world- altering moment: when Mary said yes. Imagining the place, the divine messenger, the girl, her reaction. Fra Angelico depicts a feminine Gabriel with multicolored wings bowing to a stunned and thoughtful Mary in an Italian loggia. Pre-Raphaelite John William Watterson’s beautiful blues offer calm to a clearly shocked Mary, kneeling on an oriental rug on a stone porch near a garden while a graceful, refined Gabriel-woman tries to reassure her.
Texas artist John Collier’s piece was a favorite of our Advent class last week. His Mary is a girl dressed in a long blue jumper and saddle oxfords, her school uniform. She looks as if Gabriel’s visitation interrupted her homework as she peers, with some nervousness and perhaps suspicion at the male angel, his wings sculptural, his bow humble before this girl who will be mother of God. (Hear Collier discuss his work here: https://vimeo.com/17911380 )
Another resonant painting by the people of Mafa in Cameroun bathes the scene in warm sunlight. Mary, a young village woman, greets Gabriel as a guest as she stirs a pot over the fire outside her thatched hut. Gabriel is tall, statuesque, and the gentle curve of his arm towards Mary invites her affirmation.
Poet Denise Levertov’s “Annunciation” stresses Mary’s courage and the importance of her consent: no matter the range of feelings and thoughts which coursed through her, she trusted the call and the extraordinary blessing. Had we been there, we might have heard all creation hold its breath as God waited for her answer.
We too have our own annunciations, moments when we are invited into shaping the beloved community of Christ. May we, like Mary, step into that holy, though not uncomplicated future, with “unreasonable willingness” (Barbara Brown Taylor). With trembling heart may we somehow believe that God chooses us, in our frail glory, to be Christ bearers.
As the birth of our Lord draws near, let us feel the breath of Heaven once again, Holy God, and hear the singing skies. Here the hope of new life is stirring as you are born again in us. Halleluiah! Amen.
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