Seeking a better kingdom
People are on the move: men, women, and children. They carry with them all they own, travelling together for safety. Their overlapping bodies suggest community, togetherness in their search for a better place. They make the shape of a mountain, a suggestion of how many they are. The bottom half of the picture – land and people- is muted in colour, there are lots of browns and greens.. Above them the sky is shades of blue, and migrating birds can be seen. These birds give the picture movement, and the sky symbolises hope. The birds and the people are seeking new places to rest, safe havens.
This picture depicts the Great Migration of African-Americans from the rural south to the urban north of the USA. Six million black refugees fled the terrors of discrimination in the south between World War 1 and 1970, reshaping every northern city they settled in.
This picture comes from the Migration Series by the African-American artist Jacob Lawrence. The series was produced when Lawrence was 25 years old (1940-41). It consists of 60 pictures painted on cardboard. Lawrence describes his style as ‘dynamic cubism’. Lawrence was born in the north of parents who had made the migrant journey from the south.
Again Jesus said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
Mark 4: 30-32
The kingdom of God
is mercy and grace;
the captives are freed,
the sinners find place,
the outcast are welcomed
God’s banquet to share;
and hope is awakened
in place of despair.
From the hymn ‘The Kingdom of God is Justice and Joy’
We pray for:
all those who see “home” and all it means disappear behind them;
all those who cannot see a home in the days ahead of them;
all those who dwell in daily insecurity;
all those who are weary and without a safe place to rest their heads;
all families in migration
May those fleeing oppression find a home, and the justice and mercy of the Kingdom of God.
May we be blessed with compassion for those still weary, still seeking, still with so far to go.
Jane Deren, adapted