If you want to celebrate Advent in just one simple and rich way, this might be it.
Find a quiet moment – five minutes will be fine if that’s a realistic ambition – and spend some time with this painting.
You could do this by yourself, of course, but exploring art as part of worship is something kids and adults can do together easily. If you have kids in your life, this could be a great way of sparking a conversation.
Ask each other what you notice about the painting. If praying’s your style, ask the Holy Spirit to draw your attention to something in particular. Read the accompanying text (this week it’s Luke 1:26-38) and see how the painting illuminates the reading and vice versa.
If you’d like further starters for conversation (with the art and with each other), worship curator Mark Pierson is here to help.
For years now, Mark has offered Advent in Art to the various organisations he’s part of at the time, and, by popular request, made it available more widely too. If you’re lucky, you might have his World Vision cards on your desk or dining table this December. If not, the art is available on the Advent in Art site, along with Mark’s reflections, questions and provocations.
With kind permission of Mark and this year’s artist, James B Janknegt, I’ll also be reproducing the art and hosting a discussion on it each week of Advent. If you have small people who might be interested, it’d be fab to have their reactions and thoughts in the comments, too, please!
Today is the first Sunday in Advent, and our painting is Joyful Mystery #1 Annunciation, (2007, oil on canvas), part of a projected series of 20 Mysteries. The border of roses signifies the rosary, which the sequence of Mysteries is part of.
I think it’s safe to assume there’s a lot of other traditional and contemporary symbolism hiding in plain sight in this painting. You may like to do a little googling of any details that strike you (to get you started, how about the flowers?).
What do you think? I’d really love some discussion! Anything you like, and the following to get you started if you need a prompt:
What do you like most in the painting?
What questions would you like to ask the painter?
How does the painter see and show the connection between the angel and Mary?
What do you think Mary was reading?
What kind of cat does she have with her, do you think?