Wonderful are the moments when the ‘gospel of Jesus Christ’ becomes the gospel for you and me. I experienced yet another such moment as I came across this canvas by Russian artist Vasily Polenov. It shows the boy Jesus deep in conversation with teachers in the temple, during that trip to Jerusalem when he would tell his anxious parents ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ – Luke concludes by saying ‘And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years …’ (Luke 2:52).
It is wonderful to be reminded how our Lord increased in wisdom during his earthly years, growing in a knowledge of his relationship with his heavenly Father, and of his calling to offer humanity a new beginning through life and even death. It is wonderful because it is a promise for his brothers and sisters that they too might grow in wisdom through their earthly years … that whatever my season or circumstance, I am still being grown in wisdom by the grace of God. It is humbling, and it is my greatest hope, in Christ.
While young, Polenov wrote that he dreamed of ‘creating a Christ who is not only expected but who has already come into this world and is making his way among the people’. Decades later, at the time of painting this scene, he wrote ‘I love the gospel tales beyond words. I love this naive and honest story, love this pure and lofty ethics, love this singular humanity which permeates the entire teaching, and finally I love this tragic, horrid but also grandiose finale’. To ensure the authenticity of his paintings, he had travelled through Palestine, Syria and Egypt. This painting was the first of what turned out to be a series that Polenov worked on for the next 13 years showing other scenes from the life of Jesus, finally totalling over sixty in number.
Christ is ‘making his way among his people’. And we welcome Christ as we are willing to be grown in wisdom. It is a journey, and it is good.
If you are in the area, and have the courage to set out in the snow and wind, we would welcome you to join in the worship of God. Have a look at the Order of Service below (and the announcements – please consider each a personal invitation to join us in Christian worship, community and service), and some additional information about the service that follows.
During the service there is offered a nursery for infants and a programme for young children if desired. There is free parking on the streets around (please note that the time-of-day restrictions on Clergy Street north of Queen are not in effect on Sundays) and in the surface civic lot just behind the church off Queen Street. There is a wheel chair lift available in the doors of the church closest to the manse (the courtyard is entered from the driveway half way along the St. Andrew’s block of Clergy Street) and a wheelchair ramp is available through doors along Princess Street. If you have any other questions, please call the church office Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. – noon, or email firstname.lastname@example.org