‘On the Way to Bethlehem’ – Sanctuary Banner by Anne-Marie Gabrini and Fern Houston

‘On the way to Bethlehem’ – this is one of four new banners to be unveiled this Sunday morning. I love it.

I love the ‘naif’ style, with its flowing simplicity. The sun is rising, speaking of the new day about to dawn in the birth of the ‘Emmanuel’, ‘God-with-us’. A shepherd is unawares that soon he will be caught up in something awesome. A simple wine skin and bag lie on the ground, a meal is being prepared over a makeshift fire and a donkey is relieving his thirst speak to the journey of a couple. The Holy Spirit hovers over all, in the process of transforming an ordinary scene into something extraordinary.  I love this banner. I love each of the banners.

What I find most moving about ‘On the way to Bethlehem’ are the forms given to Mary and Joseph. Mary is wonderfully rounded in belly, pregnant with the One she is to name ‘Jesus’, ‘God saves’. But I look at Joseph, and I see his contours equally wonderfully rounded. It may just be the wind blowing his gown full, but I see a man portrayed symbolically as participating in the birth of the Saviour.

Is this not the call of Advent? We live the other side of the birth of Jesus, but before the completion of the Kingdom of God he began. God is at work among us, in others around us, we are called to support them and their work like Joseph supporting Mary. The call is for us to support any work of peace and justice that might point to the Realm of Peace and Justice that God has begun in Christ and supports through Christians.

This Advent we will be exploring the theme ‘Faith is a Verb’, beginning this Sunday with a look at Joseph and ourselves. If you are in the area, we warmly welcome you to join us. Have a look at the Order of Service below. There is a nursery for infants and a programme for children during the service. And there is ample free parking on the streets about and in the surface public lot off Queen Street just behind the church.

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