Daily Devotion for Thursday 4th April 2024

Thursday 4th April 2024  Harmonia Rosales The Virgin
 
Information

Harmonia Rosales’ does not wish to upset viewers but to balance Christian art with images of black people.  She was born in 1984 of Afro-Cuban American heritage, in Chicago.  As a child she was interested in classic art by the Old Masters.  Rosales defines herself as a womanist – a movement of black people which seeks to explore and challenging the injustices they face by leading, participating in, or supporting various social justice movements. The term was first coined by African American writer Alice Walker.  Harmonia Rosales’ work isn’t meant to challenge classic art in a technical, masterful way. Instead it wants to say that black people are there and are no less important than white folk.

Reading  St Luke 2: 33 – 35

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed  so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

Reflection

At Christmas, it is Jesus “meek and mild” who we are reminded off. At Easter, it is Jesus as “Saviour” who comes to the forefront. Yet, who is Jesus in between? Some quiet, reserved individual or someone who was not scared to challenge perspectives?

We get very comfortable with an image of Jesus who is not controversial. We see his teaching as great life lessons, but not there to rock our steady boats. We hold fast to knowledge that Jesus loves us! But this is not who, Simeon declared, Jesus would be. Simeon told Mary that Jesus would rock everyone’s boat: he would be the making of some, and the downfall of others. This is the Jesus Mary holds in her arms in the painting by Harmonia Rosales.

Rosales’ painting is not a challenge to classic art, nor was it painted with the purpose of causing offence. 

However, with this painting, Rosales reminds us that Jesus is not just a loving, gentle guy; he came to turn tables in the temple and make us inwardly examine our lives. For some of us, being reminded of this is liberating. For others of us, it is scary because it means we need to step away from what we are comfortable with and look at our lives through a different lens.

Prayer

God of all,
you took on flesh not just to bridge a gap
or make yourself as one humanity can relate to.
You came into this world to change its thinking,
to turn perspectives upside-down,
and show us what ‘all’ really means.
As we gaze again at you in Mary’s arms,
help us see what accepting you, as Jesus our Saviour, requires.
Help us not get comfortable with one view,
but for ever examining who we are
because of who you are for us and for the world. Amen

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Elaine Colechin, Minister, Bromley United Reformed Church and St Mark’s United Church, Greenwich

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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