I mentioned in a recent email that Salvator Mundi, a beautiful portrait of Jesus with a dodgy provenance sold recently for $450 million. The daVinci association had something to do with it. In 2002 Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens sold for $100 million (adjusted for inflation). They are the highest prices from pre-1700 period painters. Both are around stories
that connect us with Advent.
We hear the angel’s reassuring message to the shepherds “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12 NLT)
The Christmas season has all the angels, and wise men and infant Jesus but includes the flight into Egypt because of the threats of a fearful despot who can’t see for looking. We don’t send Christmas cards featuring Massacre of the Innocents. But the world of conflict, sorrow and displacement was Jesus’ introduction to life as a child.
We’re entering the bittersweet season leading up to Christmas and the New Year. It isn’t always “visions of sugarplums” that dance in our heads. Whatever sugarplums are, we are assaulted on so many sides for our time and energy that a lot of people find this the toughest time of the year.
Yet it is into the world as it is today that Jesus comes as “God with us”, the one who makes all things new”, the one who will make all things right”. I’m not sure if triocular is a word but it is this sort of vision we need for Advent.
Traditionally we emphasize binocular vision – looking back at the events of Jesus’ birth and forward to his second coming when all is brought to fruition at the end of time as we know it. We need a third vision more than ever – looking for his presence in life as it is in our life and the lives of all around the globe. The picture isn’t pretty. Our culture puts a premium on “comfort and joy” all year round and has little room for the darker realities that shadow life.
In the midst of the noise and clamour we long for moments of quiet to reflect deeply about life. Life is joyful and painful. It is hopeful in sorrow and light shines bright because there is so much darkness. We look for signs of the presence of God with us in all of these moments.
Please enjoy our Advent Prayers during your quiet times of reflection this Christmas season.
Touchstone is finishing the year with a new look, a new website and hopes for the next few years of offering friendship in company with Jesus. Your support continues to carry us in prayer and resources. We give thanks for you and pray God’s blessing on you and yours this Christmas season.
With Jesus’ joy,