A New Year Celebration – stomping on snake heads and other reasons to party

I came across this painting by Sister Grace Remington a few years ago while doing research for a sermon.  I can’t recall what the sermon was on but this painting has stayed with me, lingering in my inbox.  It moved me then and it still moves me now.  I find myself in it – perhaps you will too.


Painting by Sister Grace Remington, OCSO Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa

This painting speaks with a simple eloquence of the hope that Christmas points to.   But more than that it speaks to me of my condition as a descendant of Eve – as one who has been infected by the serpent’s venom – as one who has been tripped up too many times by the cunning temptations hung before me like plump juicy fruit (pears by the look of it in this rendition – I love pears…).  It reminds me that the rebellion of my ancient biblical ancestors lives in me too.

This painting also speaks to me of another reality I’m learning to live into.  It calls me to recall my position and identity within God’s family.  The snake has bitten my foot (“bruised” as the Hebrew puts it).  It hurts and the venom is deadly.  However, the head of that very same snake has been struck (again, bruised) by the baby in that womb.  The prophecy spoken to the serpent in Genesis 3 has been fulfilled in the coming of Jesus (he will bruise your head, you will bruise his heel).  In other words, the snake will go down fighting, but he will go down (technically he already has, but that’s for another post).  This picture is pregnant with this promise.  It beckons me to live up to this hope and to allow my life to be infused and transformed by it.

This is worth celebrating.  Not the shallow kind of celebration that denies the difficult parts of my reality, but the authentic and genuine praise that erupts from the throats of worshippers who have tasted of freedom and are longing for more!  The kind of deep celebration that happens when the one stuck in pain and loneliness feels hope communicated to them through the loving embrace of community.  It’s the joyful tears of forgiveness, and the melodies that well up from within when the sweet tastes of hope and freedom replace the bitter flavours of sin.  We have reason for hope and we have reason to celebrate!

Jesus has come.  Jesus is with us.  Jesus has the last word (and the word after that too).  


Let’s party.

This Sunday, January 1, 2017.  10am.

P.S.  We will start on time (as usual) – don’t miss out by being late.