Each Christmas that passes comes with an opportunity to renew our spiritual posture towards the celebration. For Christians, it can sometimes feel like a feat to dive under the commercial gloss of the holiday and observe its authentic, sacred power.
Every year, I seek a new revelation that deepens my understanding of Christ’s birth. Last year, fresh revelation came through the lyrics and history of O Holy Night. If you haven’t ever done so, I implore you to now.
This Christmas, a unique piece of art is unearthing new breath into the timeless story. The drawing is quite simple, it features Eve and the Virgin Mary with each other, their statures depicting the redemption of Christ at hand. It first appeared on Monastery Candy and to follow, thoughtful reflection from Lauren Spach, From Blacktop to Dirt Road.
Lauren Spach’s reflection begs us to investigate the purpose of placing Eve and Mary together, why these two? The intent seems to go beyond curating two powerful women in the Bible.
First, we look at the DNA of each woman’s story. We see Eve, quite literally wrapped in sin. As Lauren explained “the despair on her face. It’s the face of the knowledge of sin and shame. The forbidden fruit, still in the clutches of her hand. The serpent, still with his tight grip coiled around her leg—the same evil that holds so many of us captive today.”
Eve’s story was born out of new life but became marred by the scars of temptation and sin and ultimately bound in guilt and shame. Eve represents both the beauty of mankind paired with the burden of our brokenness.
From here, we observe the woman gently cupping Eve’s face, Mary.
Mary’s story tells us something quite different, unrelated to Eve on its face. Mary is the picture of obedience. As Lauren shared in her post, “Sweet Mary, obedient Mary. Could you imagine being a teenager and being told that you would give birth to the Messiah?” Mary stands tall, steady, content with her belly pregnant with the coming Savior. She tenderly holds the timid and downcast Eve, covered in shame. Seeing Mary’s compassion juxtaposed against Eve’s reservation is not to call out “good” vs “bad.” This connection reveals the truth of [the] Christmas story.
Jesus came to rescue a hurting world. Eve, who fell from grace is face to face with Mary who carries the very life that takes all sins onto Himself. This is the picture of redemption.
A profound line in O Holy Night I feel perfectly captures the essence of this drawing: “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, till yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” From guilt to glory, we are knit into the fabric of God’s love for His people. He carries us from the depths of shame and despair and sits us on His shoulders in a position of esteemed celebration.
The Christmas story doesn’t just begin at Christ’s birth it started in Genesis, with Eve.
Artwork by Sister Grace Remington, OCSO, from the Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa. You can get this print as an Advent/Christmas card to directly support their abbey!