WSO picThe glory was brought down December 2nd by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra along with the Hanover Holiday Singers and other guests at the Holiday Pops concert. My hair is still standing on end from the shivers up my spine! What a wonderful feast of sound!

I was honoured to have been included as guest artist to show my Nativity painting titled “The Commitment” which is also meant to bring glory to the newborn king. Cards and prints were for sale and remain for sale at Steinbach Arts Council.

Viewers were intrigued to know that local people modeled for the characters in the painting. I bought used sheets from MCC to sew costumes and invited some “Gracers” over for a photo session. Then I went to local farms to get pictures of animals. Three months later this painting was completed.

I’ve been painting farm animals, but this project began when last winter my husband Gary Brown and I were brainstorming painting ideas and we thought: there were farm animals at the nativity, why not paint that? However, we decided to make it a little different than typical nativity images by focusing on Joseph – he is holding baby Jesus.

The following story appears on the back of the cards and prints:

The Commitment

Original painting by Lynda Toews: 50 x 40 inches; prints: 24 x 19 inches; cards: 7 x 5 inches

Most Nativity paintings feature Mary holding the baby Jesus. This painting calls attention to Joseph’s commitment to God, and of course God’s commitment to us.

When Mary became pregnant through the Holy Spirit, she and Joseph were betrothed to be married. Abstinence and fidelity were expected during betrothal, and adultery during this time meant divorce by Jewish law and custom. When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, he thought she had actually committed adultery and he would have been considered righteous under the law to divorce her. In fact, marrying her could have been a public humiliation in this honour-driven culture.

When God reveals the truth to Joseph about Mary’s virgin conception, his faith is strong enough to believe it. Valuing his commitment to God above his own honour, he weds Mary and allows her to remain a virgin until she gives birth. We hear no more about Joseph after Jesus is 12 years old.

The donkey, with its dorsal stripe forming a cross pointing up to baby Jesus in the painting, foreshadows Jesus riding a donkey colt into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday shortly before his execution. The donkey represented coming in peace and humility, otherwise Jesus would have been riding a princely stallion.

The shepherd’s teaching of his young grandson on the left, the faceless shepherd’s care for his flock, and the ewe’s relationship with her lamb point to other forms of humble commitment as well.

God’s commitment to us involved foregoing honour. He accepted the ultimate vulnerability to be born as a human infant to poor and humiliated parents into a world hostile to his presence. He abandoned power and honour for the sake of love to the point of dying on a cross for us. Of all the world’s faiths, only Christianity offers a God who embraces our pain with us.

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About the Steinbach Arts Council

The Steinbach Arts Council, an umbrella organization for performing and visual arts groups, enriches the lives of our community through development of local artists and musicians and exposure to professional art forms. The Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre is a home for all these groups and their programs. It’s purpose is to create an environment where all arts disciplines can work together under one roof and share their resources and their talents with each other, and the entire Arts Community!

For more info, visit steinbachartscouncil.ca.

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