Last month I travelled to Paris for a short break and spent some time with in the Louvre. It was good to catch this wonderful painting by George de la Tour ‘ the Adoration of the Shepherds’. I captured some fragments of photographs and have been dwelling on it in these last hours as the rain lashes down and we all move full throttle into Christmas. Why? because the is a deep stillness to this work and endless depth in the contours of the picture. look closely and what do you see? A dark stable. Mary and Joseph gazing at the sleeping child, wrapped in linen and lying in straw. the lamb is eating and Josephs frail little light reveals the rapt attention of the shepherds. There is a loving fascination as we have with all new life.
Have you ever looked into the face of a baby and wondered what will become of them and their lives? Perhaps the Shepherds are wondering what all this means? when we look at our children the fragility of life fills our hearts with hope and fear. This is a world that of full opportunity and danger. De la Tour’s picture is remarkable because it suggests so poignantly all those natural human concerns that we might share with a little group gathered around the baby as they gaze on the beauty and vulnerability of a tiny baby.
This child seems to emit his own strange light – not the light of Josephs candle but a searching and spiritual light which shows up the faces and almost the inner realities of wonder and prayer and joy. This ordinary child casts light into the darkness and shows those individuals as spiritual and beautiful human beings -children of God and reflecting Gods image. The childs light shows them in God’s light – yes , their flaws and failures and weariness as human beings, beloved as Gods children, vulnerable themselves and in need of love.
This child -light has the power to draw us in : to question – yes but also to worship and wonder; to see and search for that which can set us free for grace and love. This Nativity shows us the heart of love; the sheer awe and wonder of God’s life. In it is the heart of love – our hope and our journey in the awe of Gods life lived for us and in us. It promises the joy, a deep and lasting joy that comes from knowing that we are loved by God in Christ.
May the this story f divine love throw light on our lives. may we all have the gift of wonder and awe and worship in our lives. I pray that a spirit of awe may shape the picture of our lives.