November 30, 2010

Nov. 30: Turned on their head


By Debra Brubaker, professor of music, department co-chair (sp)
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 11:1-10 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

Today’s Scripture passage – a description of the coming kingdom of God – sets power on its head with unusual language. The nouns of God’s righteousness are wisdom, equity, a belt around one’s waist, a shoot growing from a stump. Fantastical images are suggested: wolves and leopards lying down with young lambs, a lion eating straw, and unbelievably, a child playing over the hole of a deadly serpent. Does God really mean all this?

Today’s meditation includes a painting by Whitney Philipps, a 2009 graduate of Goshen College. It shows Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, and her reaction to the impossible task she is being asked to undertake.

I am drawn to this image of Mary because she is not like most images of the Virgin Mother. I like it when art turns our ideas on their heads. I like it when artists take something we think we know, and show us different ways of looking at it. God is that kind of artist.

Mary raises her hand in this picture, perhaps as a greeting. Or is it? What if Mary is really saying, “Not yet. I’m not ready.” How often has God come to us, in unimaginable ways, to tell us that something truly momentous will happen – something earth shattering, life changing – and we have thought we were too small to contain it?

Mary took a grand step. In her unexpected hour, when God offered, she said “yes.” And the earth became full of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 11:1-10 (NRSV)

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.



Comments (12)

  1. Thanks Deb for your thought provoking comments on the Scripture and the accompanying piece of art: I will be pondering them during the day.

    Sue B November 30, 2010 |
  2. Very helplful. Our expectations at times do get turned upside down. The painting of the virgin surely does that, and I am grateful for it. Blessings on your ministries–devotional writing and music. Harold Bauman

    Harold Bauman November 30, 2010 |
  3. Thank you, Deb, for a different view. I am working with this passge for Sunday.

    Ruth November 30, 2010 |
  4. Thank you for sharing your meditation and the painting of Mary.
    The artist captures a facial expression which echoes the response of Isaiah in his vision of the Lord … “Woe is me!” Charles L.

    Charles Longenecker November 30, 2010 |
  5. I appreciate this image of Mary as an additional “fantastical” image for the texts of Advent 2. Thanks, Deb!

    Joan November 30, 2010 |
  6. What a fresh look – both your thoughts and the painting. Thanks for your contribution, Deb, to this “labor of love” that benefits so many of us each day through these special seasons.

    Mary LY November 30, 2010 |
  7. Beautiful imagery in words and art. Thank you!

    Rose Shetler November 30, 2010 |
  8. Hi Deb! Lovely devotional. I love the painting very much and assumed it was some masterwork before reading that it is by a GC student! I hope I will see you soon while I’m home for Christmas:)

    Rosabeth Birky Koehn November 30, 2010 |
  9. Can this painting be shared via Powerpoint with my congregation on Sunday? How do I check on permissions?

    Diane Zaerr Brenneman November 30, 2010 |
  10. Very interesting painting, thought-provoking and beautiful. Thank you for sharing it and your reflections.

    Fran Stiles November 30, 2010 |
  11. Thank You, Debra, for your inspiring thoughts and your continuing leadership in the misic at Goshen College. I am looking forward to seeing and hearing the Christmas program twice. Mary Oyer’s LLL Class is helping us prepare our hearts and minds for the outstanding program you will bring to us. With anticipation! Mary

    Mary Mishler November 30, 2010 |
  12. Each day I look forward to the devotional from this source. However, when I saw it was a music person writing, I knew it would be very meaningful, especially in a symbolic, poetic way. I was not disappointed! Thank you.

    Carolyn Swanson November 30, 2010 |