Henry Ossawa Tanner (American, 1859–1937), Christ and His Mother Studying the Scriptures, ca. 1909. Oil on canvas, 48.8 × 40 in. Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas.

I was introduced to this painting recently by Victoria Emily Jones through a blog at ‘Art and Theology’. I must admit that at first I thought Mary was teaching her son to knit … which brought a great smile to my face … but my heart was warmed when I realized that they were pouring over a scroll of the scriptures.

On this Sunday in our worship, we think of our families. We will read a passage from our contemporary Canadian statement of faith (‘Living Faith – Foi Vivante’) that ‘God’s purpose for us can be realized in both single and married life.’ We are not defined by the presence or absence of a partner, by the giving birth or adopting of children, by having siblings or an extended family. We are defined by how we allow the love of God known in Christ to flow into, and through, us whatever the particular constellation of our lives.

The fact that not one of us chooses to be born, that each one of us is brought into this world by a mother, is a humbling place to start our spiritual journey. So I appreciate the opportunity this morning to thank God for all I have learned, even via negativa, by those who have been family to me.

Who knows if back in the day a modest carpenter’s family could have afforded a scroll of scripture? In this painting I am reminded that for many of us, Christian faith and life is something that has become real for us in the witness of some within our families, whether grandparent, parent, sibling or even child.

Join us if you are in the area to give God thanks. There is ample free parking on the streets around the church, and in the public surface lot just behind the church off Queen Street. During our worship there is a nursery offered for infants and a programme for children. Have a look at the Order of Service and the announcements within. You will be welcome!

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