“Down From His Glory” – Condescension

     I remember the crazy rocking of the plastic flowers on top of the little pump organ in response to Aunty Patsy’s efforts.  She coaxed the Christmas carol through its ancient fittings, pressing the pedals below with exuberance. Continue reading ““Down From His Glory” – Condescension”

2nd Podcast Interview with Aliyah Lauren Jacobs

Part 2, A Conversation About Mary and The Women at The Table

I know it is right during Lent to consider Jesus as we prepare to commemorate His atonement and resurrection.  But did you ever wonder what his mother, Mary, must have gone through – wondering what was going to happen to her perfect Son?  What must the ponderings of her heart have been, as it approached the piercing prophesied by Simeon.

Thank God that in the sobriety and even the sorrow of Lent we realize that we have a God who knows us in every human experience, even our pain.  Through Mary we observe how to bear patiently through our pain with faith and courage.

As Lent culminates we explore these themes through conversation, Scripture and poetry. Pull up a chair and join me in a lively conversation around Mary’s table with Aliyah Lauren Jacobs, author of the novel Yehudit and host of the South African podcast ‘Heart Beat’.

Father’s Coming

The massive white marble statue of Mary, with the lifeless body of Christ draped over her lap, came immediately to mind in response to Susan Forshey’s  Advent chart invitation to 
“Spend time with a favorite piece of art”.
Michelangelo Buonarotti’s famous sculpture, Pieta, (pee-ay-tah) intrigued me the moment I stumbled on it  in my college years. As a student of African-American Literature, I had found it useful as a metaphor for  the burden of  motherhood and the pain of fatherlessness. My reflections then, had inspired a triad of poems titled ‘Pieta in Black’ which captures  these themes.*
Revisiting Pieta this Advent, however, has me appreciating the promise ‘of the Father’ coming ‘through the Son’, ‘by the Spirit’ – Trinity. In considering the Incarnation, my focus had always only been on the second person of the Godhead, Jesus. But it was the Father whose power overshadowed the Virgin Mary, and it was the Holy Spirit who came upon her  in order for Jesus, our Hero, to arrive. Lk 1:35
 So rightly, Advent should also be a time to celebrate the Father’s initiative in our redemption story. He authored the whole thing, bringing and delivering His greatest Gift to us through the Virgin’s womb – let’s make room in the Nativity for the Father!
 The ‘coming of father’, in any language, can evoke diametrically opposed emotions : dread, guilt and fear, on one hand, and joy, exultation and expectation of blessings – gifts! – on the other. Many a child has been brought up short, from inappropriate behavior, by the threat “When your father comes …”. Yet I find myself wondering if the longing for Father-presence ( no disrespect to Joseph) in the Christmas story, is not what birthed and feeds the spirit of Santa – a longing to please father and be rewarded for it, motivated to be nice by the threat of the twice-checked list – a striving to earn grace.
Several years ago, FourSquare pastor and founder of The King’s College & Seminary, in Los Angeles,  Jack Hayford, cautioned  church leaders in a Christmas message, to not be exceedingly disparaging of the idea of Santa, as it speaks to the longing for pleasant associations with fatherhood at a time of year when fatherlessness can be most painful – a longing that just might lead many a wounded ‘child’ home. My meditations this season compel me to agree.
So palpable was the pain of fatherlessness, as I experienced it in the Literature of my college days, I was tempted to put it aside – to reject its pain for more romantic (idyllic) and beautifully themed material, but somehow the martyr in me won. I felt an odd responsibility, having seen the wound, to do something about it, even if only to make others aware. My conscience, shaped no doubt by memories of the persona in Christina Rossetti’s children’s poem ‘The Snare’,  dictates that if I can hear that ‘there is a rabbit in a  snare’ then  I must ‘search everywhere’ or else communicate the dreadful fact to as many as I can, who may be able to help search and rescue. In Pieta, Mary, by her  fixed gaze,  bids  everyone make eye contact with the pain born of sinfulness, if we would also behold the Innocent One sacrificed for us.
Her slightly upturned left hand was also a new focus for me this season of Advent meditation: was she intended to be gesturing accusingly to the world whose sins had slain him? Or was she offering Him, surrendering Him a substitute for our propitiation?- fulfillment of that same gesture when, as her younger self, freshly delivered of her Holy Burden, she had offered him to shepherds and Kings alike. Only, then, it was for their adoration of Him in His infancy. Or maybe, just maybe, the gesture is  intended as a re-presentation of Jesus back to the Omnipresent  Father, who, having  so prodigally  given, waited  in readiness, for the appointed time, to turn again, and raise Him back to life.
 In this, Pieta is the picture of Ultimate Hope! Let every faithful mother-heart, surrendered, like Mary’s, wait expectantly this Advent for the coming of the Father who alone can raise up sons, however badly wounded, to life again. 🙏🏿
* ( Pieta and other of my poems will be posted in the new year with accompanying audio – Deo Volente – as the Lord allows)