Advent came a bit early this year. This past Sunday Mark and I shared the sermon to preview our Advent theme and give some commentary on the foundational text for the season – The Gospel of Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus. It includes five women, each with outsider status. This coming Sunday will be our annual Gratitude Sunday before Thanksgiving, then we’ll step into the official beginning of Advent the following Sunday, November 27.
This Advent we’re drawing from a new book by Mennonite pastor Joanna Harader (Peace Mennonite Church, Lawrence, Kansas), Expecting Emmanuel: Eight Women Who Prepared the Way. It’s designed as an Advent devotional with daily meditations, each week focused on a different woman in Jesus’ lineage. CMC households are encouraged to walk through it this season.
One of the things I appreciate about the book is the artwork. Pastor Michelle Burkholder of Hyattsville Mennonite Church near Washington, DC created an image for each woman. In the introduction Michelle writes: “Much of my work is abstract – lines and shapes in a relationship of composition…My work attempts to create a space of reflection and conversation between word and image.”
Six of the images will be part of our Advent setting.
Here is the one for Ruth:
I notice something like a path leading into the frame, perhaps the long road Ruth walked from Moab to Judah with her mother-in-law Naomi after both of their husbands had died. I notice the hot sun over the barley field under which Ruth gleaned to provide for the two women.
Here is the image for Rahab:
I notice the cord that served as an escape line for the Israelite spies who had spent the night at Rahab’s house within the wall of Jericho. The same cord signaled to the Israelite army to spare Rahab and her family from the city’s destruction. The lamp of Rahab’s vigilance kept her the Israelite story burning for future generations to see.
As the weather turns colder and we live more indoors, these and the other images we will ponder invite us to examine our own internal landscape as we join in expecting Emmanuel, God with us.