Bringing the Text to Life

Ordinarily Sacred Luke 1:26-38

At Christmas we are all called to birth and cradle Christ in our own lives -- to wrap our arms around others and offer the world the miraculous power of an ordinary hug.

Many manger scenes show Mary as a figure down on her knees, a look of saintly adoration on her face, with her arms held up and palms upraised. While that gesture is probably meant to infer Mary's praise and worship of the Christ Child, it tends to give her a look of surprise -- as if she has somehow just stumbled across this newborn infant lying in the straw-filled manger. And of course, it goes without saying that the Joseph figure in the creche is an aloof kind of presence, a stalwart-looking figure pretty much devoid of emotion.

How many new parents have you seen react to the arrival of their first child in such fashion? How many mothers who have just given birth could kneel even if they wanted to? A far more authentic, accurate and emotionally articulate representation of the little family's first moments together is probably found in the work of folk artist Tom Clark of "Gnomes" fame.

Clark is an ordained Presbyterian minister who spent most of his career life teaching, but...

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