Tag Archives: The Hen

Mother and Father

I’m just thinking…

Cottrell points us to the maternal image in this picture (p86).  God as mother hen gathering her chicks and keeping them safe.

He quotes Anselm as saying

Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to you; you are gentle with us as a mother with her children

(quoted from ‘A Song of Anselm’ in Common Worship, Daily Prayer)

By Steve Evans from India and USA (Sri Lanka) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Cottrell also quotes Mother Julian saying

God chose to be our mother in all things

I can see that in this painting.  We do lose the feminine traits of God at our peril and detriment,

but…

I also wonder if Spencer’s painting offers us something else – a picture of a man nurturing, caring, and giving safety?  Does Spencer’s picture offer us a picture of fatherhood that our society needs?  That it is ok for fathers to give that gentle, loving care?   Is Jesus here offering us a different view of masculinity?  That it is possible for a man to be vulnerable and gentle? Something that is still seen as unusual by some.  (In proof of point, when I looked for a picture of man with a child, they were mainly ‘doing’, taking part in exciting activities, not men just holding and caring)

Cottrell speaks of Jesus’ vocation and self-understanding (p87).  His great love for the earth and all that is in it.  Jesus love is one that is gentle enough to gaze on a flower, to hold a scorpion in his hand so as to do no harm to it and to wrap his arms of love around the hen and her chicks.  As we will come to see in the next days, his love is also strong enough to stand up for all that is right and to die the death of love…

He is showing us a way that all people can be.  Amongst other things he has shown us that it is possible to hold all those qualities in one person.  It is not either or, but can be both and.  It is ok to be gentle and protective, whoever we are.  Possibilities are offered for us all.

This is an old song now, but it does encapsulate the two sides of Jesus’ nature

Just me wondering.  What do you think?  Does Jesus in this picture offer us a helpful view of manhood as well as showing the motherhood of God?

34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Your people have killed the prophets and have stoned the messengers who were sent to you. I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn’t let me. (Luke 13:34)

These thoughts are reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s painting The Hen (seen here).

This year for Lent, I am reading Christ in the Wilderness by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, published by SPCK, reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s paintings of that title.

I’m not necessarily going to blog every day on it, just when something leaps out at me – and they will be thoughts rather than full blog posts

Yes, But…

As I was writing yesterday about God keeping all safe, I was thinking,

Yes, but

what about those whose safety is compromised by the actions of others.  God may keep us safe, but sometimes others crash those walls down.  What about that.

Sometimes it seems so easy to say, “Don’t worry, God will look after you”, so trite and simplistic.  Yet in truth, God is always there trying to wrap his arms around everyone.  But some people won’t be held, and in their rebellion, their escaping, they cause harm to others.

So that was why it was timely to be reminded by Stephen Cottrell that most of the paintings in this series were painted during the first few years of the Second World War (p83).  So Spencer was not painting in a Utopian vacuum.  He was fully aware of the atrocities life can throw up.  He had known for himself The Wilderness.

Yet this picture is painted later, in 1954.  It could be seen as a “there, there”, as a parent puts its arms around a child after it has been hurt.  Letting it know that they are there and it’s ok.

US_Navy_100116-N-2953W-385_A_Haitian_mother_comforts_her_child_at_the_Killick_Haitian_Coast_Guard_Base_clinic_as_a_member_of_the_U.N._security_team_stands_watch

Spencer has been through the war, been through his personal wilderness, and his response is this painting.  Highlighting God’s care, love and shelter.

Indeed Jesus himself says these words,

Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Your people have killed the prophets and have stoned the messengers who were sent to you. I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn’t let me. (Matthew 23:37)

knowing full well what is to come, what is about to happen to him.  God’s love and care are not outside of pain or unaware of its existence.  It comes from right within all that life can throw – hatred, mistreatment, rejection… Jesus knew it all and knew God’s care and support.

To me, that is the true value of all Jesus has to say.  He is not pontificating from on high, but has been involved in the real mess of the world, and his word comes from that experience and knowledge.  Jesus’ words are not empty platitudes, but comfort born out of shared experience.

And that makes all the difference.

 

These thoughts are reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s painting The Hen (seen here).

This year for Lent, I am reading Christ in the Wilderness by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, published by SPCK, reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s paintings of that title.

I’m not necessarily going to blog every day on it, just when something leaps out at me – and they will be thoughts rather than full blog posts

Holding it Together

Stephen Cottrell points us to a further scripture:

God’s Son was before all else, and by him everything is held together. (Colossians 1:17)

Whatever happens, there is always someone who has to hold things together, someone who sees the whole picture.  Others may do plenty to help, but it needs that one person encircling it all.  Here that is quite clearly shown to be Jesus.

However much I think I’m doing in my life, however much I think I am doing in the world, I play just a part – God is the one holding it all together.

Cottrell reminds us that,

The Christian faith is a promise of restoration: a time when all the scattered fragments of our lives are gathered into a place of safety and refuge (p82)

He also goes on to point out that this is also a present reality.  God in Jesus cares for us and protects us, watches out for us and longs to gather us, as the hen gathers her chicks.

Am I going to let God wrap his arms around me, hold me safely and allow him to hold everything together?

These thoughts are reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s painting The Hen (seen here).

This year for Lent, I am reading Christ in the Wilderness by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, published by SPCK, reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s paintings of that title.

I’m not necessarily going to blog every day on it, just when something leaps out at me – and they will be thoughts rather than full blog posts