Weekly Blog - Catherine Beaumont - Party like it’s 2000 BC
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Posted on: 30th November 2022
Last Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent and the beginning of the Church Year (Happy New Year!). In our church tradition the first Sunday in Advent focuses on the Patriarchs, and this year we used Rublev’s ‘The Trinity’ to explore themes of hospitality and preparation. This icon illustrates the story of the three visitors to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18. In the background can be seen Abraham’s house, the Oak of Mamre, and Mount Moriah, while the visitors fill the foreground. In the biblical narrative these visitors are described as both ‘The Lord’ and the ‘Three Men’ and Rublev uses this three-in-one as a metaphor for the Trinity, depicting the figures as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Reading right to left, the first figure represents the Holy Spirit, dressed in blue and green to symbolise the creation of heaven and earth. The son is in the centre, wearing a brown robe to show that he is human and of the earth with a blue cloak to show that he is also of heaven. It is hard to describe the colour worn by the figure on the left, the fabric seems to be almost transparent and has a shimmering quality, this indicates that God the Father cannot be seen except through his glory which fills the created world.
It has become de rigueur to bemoan the busyness of the Advent season, we fear the meaning of Christmas will be lost in all the shopping, partying, and extra cooking & cleaning, but this story reminds us that hospitality to others is part of our own preparation for receiving Christ into our lives. Whether we are hosting visitors in our homes, our churches, or our projects we would do well to follow the example of Abraham and Sarah who spared no expense, and for whom nothing was too much trouble. Times of inactivity and rest are also important, if Abraham had been busy instead of sitting by the tree, he may have missed this opportunity to welcome The Lord into his home.
The table in the centre of the image represents both Abraham’s hospitality to his visitors and God’s hospitality to us: The space at the table is on our side, inviting us to join the circle.
If you have the energy, enjoy the busyness of Advent and Christmas, and expect God to be present in all those who enjoy your hospitality. But if you are feeling exhausted by the difficulties of the past year, if you have spent all year practising hospitality and are worn out by the increasing needs and demands, if you feel you have nothing left to give ~ step into the circle, sit down, rest, and receive.
Catherine Beaumont, Manager, Leeds Christian Community Trust.