Advent Annunciation 2021

Years ago our then-pastor Tony Palubicki preached an Advent sermon using art. He showed us pictures of the Annunciation, including an amazing panting titled “Overshadowed.” Artist Patty Wickman produced it December 21, 2008.

I fell in love with Wickman’s painting at first glance. Mary comes too often in that Raphael-esque “aren’t you the image of feminine virtue” with a veil and is not relatable as the unwed teen mother she was about to become. Or the story she couldn’t tell. Or the woman with a definite strain on her forthcoming marriage. She carried all that and Jesus, too.

And then a couple of weeks ago a friend posted this poem by Kaitlin Shelter, and I cried my eyes out. This is what is wrong with how churches see women, and this is why Mary is the ultimate example of what it means to be a Christian woman, not the veils and the downcast eyelashes and the artful folds in her robe of the male masters who decided she needed to be softened at the edges. She changed the world, not as a vessel, but as a woman who raised divinity with humanity. She spanked him, changed his diapers, and cried her eyes out at what was coming. And she did it all in a world full of men who debated when the Messiah would show up and how they would all be ready to greet him and be part of his wonderful army and reign.

SOMETIMES I WONDER by Kaitlin Shelter:

sometimes I wonder

if mary breastfed jesus

if she cried out when he bit her

or if she sobbed when he would not latch

and sometimes I wonder

if this is all too vulgar

to ask in a church

full of men

without milk stains on their shirts

or coconut oil on their breasts

preaching from pulpits off limits to the mother of god

but then i think of feeding jesus

birthing jesus

the expulsion of blood

and smell of sweat

the salt of a mother’s tears

onto the soft head of the salt of the earth

feeling lonely

and tired




loving and i think

if the vulgarity of birth is not

honestly preached

by men who carry power but not burden

who carry privilege but not labor

who carry authority but not submission

then it should not be preached at all

because the real scandal of the birth of god

lies in the cracked nipples of a14 year old

and not in the sermons of ministers

who say women

are too delicate

to lead

Thank you Kaitlin, Thank you Patty, Thank you Jesus

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