This Advent season, we're turning our focus towards "Waiting for Jesus" with sermons based on the gospel stories preceding Jesus' birth. In a world that can't (and won't) give us all we want or need, our posture is one of waiting for Jesus to come and restore the earth in the ways he promised. Each sermon will highlight a different aspect of what it means to wait for Jesus: a needed perspective in a culture that seems to be allergic to the concept of waiting!
For our bulletin art, we chose to feature H.O. Tanner's "The Annuniciation." H.O. Tanner was the first widely-recognized African-American artist, although racism in the United States made his adopted France a more comfortable "home base" for his vocation. A poor, religious upbringing probably contributed to the fact that many of his works portray scenes of ordinary African-American life or religious themes.
"The Annuniciation," painted in 1898, portrays the encounter between Mary and the angel, who announces that Mary will be the mother of the Christ-child (Luke 1:26-38). This passage will be the focus of the 2nd message in the series. Tanner's depiction is beautiful, realistic, and restrained. Mary looks rightly perplexed and concerned; the depiction of the angel, instead of veering into schmaltz, simply reflects how indescribable it must be to encounter an angel! Mary's clothes practically swallow her, signifying the role she is stepping into is far too large for her to fill. The red cloth hanging on the wall seems to point forward to the pain this incredible announcement will one day cause. But for now, Mary sits - waiting - with closed body posture but eyes open to a wondrous possibility. "Could it be?..."
Our website banner had much humbler beginnings: as a stock photo. But the empty chairs, vibrant colors, and modern "Bebas" font give can give us a different glimpse into waiting on Jesus. The chairs seem like they might belong in a waiting room somewhere, but not a normal waiting room. The variety of colors suggest that everyone's waiting will be different: everyone's journey to, from, and in these chairs will be potentially exciting, potentially vibrant, potentially transformative. The chairs also aren't so comfy that they're a destination. They're a stop, a resting place, on the way to something bigger. And significantly, the chairs aren't full. Waiting is not a matter of stopping and giving up; waiting is simply a different type of "going." Waiting is launching out into life in trust that a place to sit and rest truly exists, and that it will be available when we need it. Waiting isn't drudgery: it's claiming a role in a larger adventure. And these chairs - in some small way - seem to communicate just that.
We hope and pray this art helps you enter the Advent season more fully. Many, many blessings on you and yours as we wait for the coming of the King!
- Pastor Ken