|Pen and Ink Reflections||
I thought it might be helpful this morning to bring along a favourite bowl of mine. It was made by an artist friend Kerry Holland, whose paintings and bowl sculptures on the theme of The Visitation is currently on exhibition in Pitt Street Uniting Church. She also made this one, which she gave to me as a gift when I came out as transgender, affirming my authentic gender identity a few years ago. It is precious to me for that reason but also because, like all of Kerry’s bowl sculptures it is unique, with its own particular shape, story, and constellation of colours. In that sense, it is like each human being: an exquisitely unique and special divine creation. The more I reflect upon that, and upon the nature of a bowl itself, the more I am also drawn into the love of God. So I would like to share with you some ways in which each of us might helpfully use a bowl as a prayerful way into appreciating ourselves and others and holding together what can easily be misused in the Gospel parable (Matthew 25.31ff) which we heard read just now. For, whilst that passage is in some ways quite straightforward in the challenge it offers us, it is also presents some questions, particularly in the way it divides people into two black and white binary groups, one of which receives blessed things and the other total condemnation…
How do you relate to Mary in our Christian tradition? Even mentioning her name opens up a host of feelings and thoughts for so many. As the Danish literary historian Pil Dahlerup rightly said, in an article entitled ‘Rejoice, Mary’:
No woman and no deity in the Middle Ages attracted the poets like the Virgin Mary, mother of Christ. It is, however, hard to read what the poets write about Mary; we are inhibited by prejudices that block our understanding of what the texts are actually saying. Protestants dislike her because she is attributed divinity. Male chauvinists dislike her because she is a woman. Feminists dislike her because she is a woman in a way of which they disapprove. Nationalists dislike her because she represents an alien element in terms of creed and idiom. Marxists dislike her because they do not see her (in the North) as a figure of the people…
Despite this, we cannot avoid Mary in Christian faith. Not least, although women and their lives and gifts are so few and highly gendered in the Bible, Mary simply cannot be erased. So what do we make of her today?...