For Christmas season, we collected photos of our parishioners’ Christmas creches and sent one or two out each day in emails. I put them together in a video so they would all be in one place. I recorded the soundtrack in my office.
Do you think Joseph held the baby? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a painting showing Joseph with the baby Jesus. He’s usually standing in the background looking lost. So I thought I’d draw him looking at the baby, wondering about this newborn child and how he was going to change his life.
Sometimes we idealize the manger scene with an angelic Mary, a stoic Joseph, and warm, approving shepherds and wise men. But I wonder how Joseph and Mary felt after the shepherds and wise men had gone. Maybe they were completely worn out, like they’re portrayed in a painting by artist Gari Melchers that I sketched in charcoal.
On Christmas Eve, we hear the beautiful story of Christmas, which begins with the journey to Bethlehem by Mary and Joseph. The popular image of this journey shows Joseph leading a donkey carrying Mary on its back.
But I like this image of Mary and Joseph by Fritz von Uhde, painted in 1890. It shows the young couple in Dutch clothing of von Uhde’s era, leaning on each other in their distress. They look poor, slightly ragged, and the weather looks foreboding. Mary holds on to Joseph who holds her protectively. You can see a carpenter’s saw on Joseph’s back.
I wonder, how do you visualize the journey to Bethlehem?
The Virgin Mary is a model for all Christians because of her willingness to open herself to the Holy Spirit. “Let it be,” she said. Because of her humility and obedience, she said “yes” to God’s call, and her soul was exalted, as we hear in the beautiful words of the Magnificat, the Song of Mary.
This Sunday we hear the wonderful story of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was going to have a baby who would be holy. Mary has been a subject of fascination and wonder for centuries. This is a copy of a portion of a painting of Mary by John Williams Waterhouse, 1914.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would bear a holy child, what did Mary look like? Countless artists have attempted to portray this mystery. This sketch is a copy of part of a famous painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898.
The Blessed Virgin Mary inspires us as she ponders the ways of God and responds, “Let it be to me according to your word.”
In the Gospel lesson this morning the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will conceive and bear a child who will be holy. She replies in wonder, “How can this be, for I am a virgin?”
Mary has been the subject of myriads of paintings over the centuries as artists have pondered Mary’s gentleness, humility, and acceptance. She’s a wonderful subject.
In our Old Testament lesson this Sunday, King David asks the prophet Nathan if he should build God a house of cedar (a temple). Nathan replies, “Thus says the Lord, You shall not build me a house, but I will build you a house.”
The “house” that God will build for David is the house of his descendants, who will sit on David’s throne forever. Jesus, the Son of David, now sits on David’s throne.
In our Old Testament lesson for next Sunday, God speaks to the prophet Nathan. God tells him that King David should not build him a house. Instead, God will build David a house, and David’s throne will be established forever.
David may not have wanted to hear this, so I think Nathan may have been a bit perplexed. Here’s my interpretation of Nathan as God speaks to him.