For our final advent offering of 2015, I thought I’d share some images of a gospel tradition that follows shortly after the story of the nativity. In Matthew 2.13-23, after the magi have paid their visit, God visits Joseph in a dream and tells him to take his family and flee to Egypt, as Herod intends to search for the child and kill him. This tradition has become very popular in art, with paintings from across the centuries showing these dramatic events as they unfold.
Often, artists have captured the family making this long and difficult journey, travelling through hostile territory, looking weary and unsure.
Other artists have added to the gospel traditions, showing the family taking a rest on the journey, perhaps to emphasise how long and tiring their travels were.
Mary is snoozing with Jesus in the embrace of a Sphinx!
Less often, we see the journey as it reaches its end, and the holy family arrive at their destination.
One of my favourite images of this gospel tradition, however, has to be this modern take by Russian artist Ivan Korshunov.
I love this visual interpretation of the story – Mary and Joseph are depicted as strong, confident characters, content in the knowledge that they are going to outrun any dangers that are snapping at their heels. On their motorcycle, they have speed and power. Mary smiles contentedly, her limbs wrapped around Joseph in a gesture of both comfort and desire. Even the infant Jesus seems blissfully unaware of his surroundings, snugly sheltering on his mother’s back. This is a family of refugees that exudes contentment and care, looking ahead to the safety of the life that awaits them in a new land, far away from Herod’s grasp.
Well, that’s it for 2015. From all of us at the Auckland Theology and Religion blog, health and happiness to you and yours over this festive period and we look forward to sharing more with you on the blog in 2016.