Mary and her child – 27 December 2021

Here is a picture full of tenderness and joy. In a dark space, where animals are kept and look on, Mary holds her little child. The pair are illuminated by a light from above. The new-born infant is partially wrapped in a cloth, but we can see his tiny feet and hands. Mary’s little lamb, who will be the lamb of God, rests on a sheep’s fleece. In the background is an ass, to help us locate this mother are child. Mary herself is young, her hair tidily platted, a small smile on her face. Her attention is entirely on her child, as our attention will be, and she is full of love. But first, we stop to wonder at the God who entrusts the incarnate son into the care of such a young women. Out of this great love Mary will do more than her duty. She can be trusted.

The picture is by Correggio, 16th C artist from Palma.

 

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Luke 2:4-7

 

You bore for me the One who came to bless
And bear for all and make the broken whole.
You heard His call and in your open ‘yes’
You spoke aloud for every living soul.
Oh gracious Lady, child of your own child,
Whose mother-love still calls the child in me,
Call me again, for I am lost, and wild
Waves surround me now. On this dark sea
Shine as a star and call me to the shore.
Open the door that all my sins would close
And hold me in your garden. Let me share
The prayer that folds the petals of the Rose.
Enfold me too in Love’s last mystery
And bring me to the One you bore for me.

Malcolm Guite

 

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung,
of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a flow’ret bright, amid the cold of winter,
when half-spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
when half-spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story, proclaimed by angels bright,
how Christ, the Lord of glory, was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found him,
as angel heralds said.

This flow’r, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
dispels with glorious splendour the darkness ev’rywhere.
True man, yet very God; from sin and death he saves us
and lightens ev’ry load.

O Saviour, child of Mary, who felt our human woe;
O Saviour, King of glory, who dost our weakness know,
bring us at length, we pray, to the bright courts of heaven
and to the endless day.

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
German Carol, Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen, ca. 1500
Translated by Theodore Baker, 1894 (Stanzas 1–2),
Harriet R. Spaeth, 1875 (Stanzas 3–4), and John C. Mattes, 1914 (Stanza 5)