Clergy Notes for the Fourth Sunday of Advent — December 20, 2020

One of the great things about art (and about being an artist!), is that art can get away with bold statements that challenge the things we think we are certain about. Recently I came across a photo of a 15th-century Trinitarian statue which radically broke the usual paradigm of the Father being portrayed as the largest/most prominent figure, and the Holy Spirit the smallest, usually as a dove. In this particular piece, the statue instead opened to reveal the smaller figure of the Father, holding the crucified Son in the very centre, all enclosed by the statue’s primary and largest figure — Mary.

Although doctrinally problematic, I love this image for several reasons but mainly because it speaks brilliantly to the paradox of Mary: through her “Let it be to me according to your word,” she became the created holding the Creator, and subsequently all of creation. I rather imagine that God likes tossing a paradox or two our way from time to time, perhaps delighting in our curiosity – even discomfort – and the way we, who are so confident in our ability to know everything, must constantly confront our utter childlike unknowingness.

I bring this up because in this our final week of Advent, we walk with Mary towards the birth of Christ. Traditionally we may think of tender things like Mary being a mother, and the gentleness of her personage, but I personally prefer to think of her as a radical. In a time and place where saying “yes” in the manner that she did left her open to all sorts of judgement and even danger, Mary nevertheless trusted that God would sort out all the parts she didn’t understand and simply work through her bold willingness to do God’s will.

In my own life, there have been times when I too have found myself, like Mary, saying “yes” to my Creator, trusting that all the things which make me uncomfortable and confused are in God’s hands. I rather think that is how we can all walk with Mary this week, as we look for ways God is asking us to say “yes” to something – perhaps something very small – that we don’t understand or which makes us uncomfortable, so that we too can know the childlike joy of trusting in our Creator.

Deacon Amanda

Download the Sunday service booklet here: Liturgy at Home Advent 4 Dec 20 2020