"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Monday, December 20, 2004

"How can this be?"

I know that the feast of the Annuciation is still months away, but I recently found this image on-line and I wanted to share it with the readers of this blog. It is "The Annuciation" by American painter Henry Ossawa Turner (1898). At St. Vincent's School we have our own lectionary for the children's daily chapel and, understandably, we cover the birth narrative (except for the Nativity itself) with the kids in the week before school breaks for Christmas. Last week we covered the Annuciation and the Visitation, so my thoughts have been running in that direction lately. I love Turner's painting because of the expression on the Blessed Virgin's face. (Click on the image for a larger version.) We see a Galilean girl, perhaps awakened from a nap, taking the most earth-shaking news ever given with a mixture of apprehension and openness ... or better yet, curiosity. "How can this be?" Beautiful. Pray for us, O Theotokos, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen. Posted by Hello


Anonymous Anonymous said...

my first visit in some time--you have been active, randall! a wonderful page. thank you especially for the images. merry christmas, sir.


8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful piece of art! It certainly does capture the essence of that blessed moment in a very non-traditional yet effective way. Sort of reminds me of the Annunciation scene from Zefferelli's "Jesus of Nazareth".
Good to see you Saturday, Randall...may you have a blessed Christ Mass.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for your link to Turner's portrait of the Annunciation. Interestingly, this painting--or rather a print of it--hung outside my advisor's door at Princeton Seminary. He often advocated a homiletical hermeneutics of surprise--i.e. what about the text astounds us. Perhaps Turner portrays a bit of that in his painting. The RCL gave Matthew 1:18-25 as the Gospel reading for the fourth Sunday of Advent, which I preached on. Though the text mentions little of Mary--perhaps in keeping with Matthew's general diffidence towards the BVM (at least in comparison with Luke)--the Incarnation is always a key time to proclaim Mary's role as the one who is "Quick to Hear", ala the Orthodox icon, and quick to obey, thereby giving a human birth to the Eternal Word. What does it mean that God is now a baby, born to suffer for us?

I actually think there is (or at least will be) a resuregence of Marian piety underway within the Lutheran Church--particularly as our self-conception becomes more Catholic and catholic. Turner's painting--one in a long series on the life of Christ--is a nice addition to any communion's appreciation and honoring of the BVM.


3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Randall,
I've been straight out lately, I admit, and haven't looked at your blog in a little while. But the images you've uploaded are exquisite. I hope someday we can sit down (even if separated by hundreds of miles) and ruminate some more on the mystery of the Incarnation.
Have a very blessed Christmas.
Scott J.

11:50 PM  

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