During a recent visit to the National Gallery of Art, we had the privilege of learning from Dr. David Gariff, senior lecturer at the Gallery. We walked among and reflected upon a dozen Nativity masterpieces.
When the Pilgrims landed on the shores of Plymouth Bay in 1620, they were strangers to the new land but not to suffering. They had already been tested and tried in England, in Holland, and on the seas of the great Atlantic. Prior to their journeys, they set apart days of solemn humiliation, fasting, praying and seeking God.
In The Small Crucifixion from the National Gallery, the artist invites the viewer into the horror of crucifixion, with moving realism and immediacy. The perfect and divine oblation of our Lord on the Cross radiates from the canvas. Christ’s abandonment, desolation, and poverty on the Cross is expressed through every element in the scene – form, line, color, and composition. The viewer is drawn to His emaciated body racked with marks of torture, his bloodied face, and his bowed head, all of which speak of his unbearable agony.
God who is Love, reconciled us to himself.
Man is not the center. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake.1 ‘Thou has created all things and for thy pleasure they are and were created.2
Love can forbear, and Love can forgive… but Love can never be reconciled to an unlovely object… He can never therefore be reconciled to your sin, because sin itself is incapable of being altered ; but He may be reconciled to your person, because that may be restored.3
Recently, I came across a definition of God suggested by the nineteenth century theologian, Adam Clarke. Of all things, it moved me to think about Thanksgiving.
In the summer months of my growing up years, sitting in the shade of a tree or feeling the warm breeze of an oscillating fan, I spent many a long afternoon reading. Weekly readings were gathered from the school book club and from the local library (which required a weekly two and a half mile bicycle ride to fill my basket). Afternoons were filled with mystery, people of long ago, men and women who lived in the White House, and characters who, by their adventures, captured my imagination.
Haul out the holly;
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again.
Fill up the stocking,
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now.
For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute,
Candles in the window,
Carols at the spinet.
Yes, we need a little Christmas
Over the Christmas holidays, we visited friends on their farm. It was a brisk sunny day, as we walked corrals, pastures, and woodland, taking in nature’s sights and smells.
After surveying the land, our friends’ young son called me over to the meadow, declaring that he wanted to show me something. Looking into the tall grass, one could see a narrow path with high grasses on both sides. "The deer made the path,” he said.
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