Sunday, 17 March 2019

The Hen

Another of Stanley Spencer's "Christ in the Wilderness" Lent paintings. A Russian writer has said of these paintings "Where else in the Bible does man appear in such union with the beasts, with no fear and alienation? Obviously, in Eden, where Adam resided before the fall. Christ, who came to save mankind from the curse of original sin, is the new Adam, as described in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. 
...Therefore, Jesus peacefully dwells among animals, birds, plants and with childish curiosity he peers at them, for this firstborn Son of God has found his human nature, similarity with earthly being. As a creature 'from another planet', Jesus gets used to this world, delicately delves into it, amused and delighted"
This painting is entitled 'The Hen' - a reminder of the words of Jesus in Matthew 23, as he weeps over the city of Jerusalem
"O, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing."
There is a proud cockerel, and other fowl, strutting behind, at the back of the picture -but Jesus encircles the mother hen and her chicks, with his whole body - protecting them, watching over them.There is care and compassion in his face. He is aware how fragile they are, utterly defenceless, how easily they could be hurt or killed. The mother hen gathers them, hides them, and she makes herself vulnerable as she protects them. This picture doesn't show 'amusement and delight' - but sadness. 
Our world has seen another turbulent week - the continued division in the British Parliament, political unrest in France, tension in the USA government, and now the killings in New Zealand. Oh that people across could gather together, united, protected, supported by the fatherly love of God, as the chicks gather under the wings of their mother hen...but they are not willing.
It was so good to see pictures of Andrew Graystone standing outside his local Manchester Mosque during the Friday Prayers.
Here is a man who takes his Christian faith seriously. "You can respond with fear, or you can respond with friendship" he said.
Lord, in a world of fear and hatred, give us your compassion - and help us to extend the loving hand of friendship - especially to those who are in need.


  1. I have downloaded Stephen Cottrell's book Christ in the Wilderness, a series of reflections on the paintings. Very interesting.

  2. What a truly wise and brave human being. Thank you for linking to his details. I enjoyed reading about his faith journey.

  3. I like that painting. We are all a bit like that hen, and it is comforting to think that we, too, have someone keeping watch over us, as we go about being a mother hen, ourselves.

  4. Both pictures are very moving - I love that some people are so moved to take action.
    When I have people to pray for I always visualise them being enfolded by God's healing wings - it was always a passage that stood out for me in the bible.

  5. Have you been to Sandham Memorial Chapel? Just south of Newbury, it is full of his paintings of his WW1 experience.

    1. It's already on my want-to-visit list!

  6. I'm really enjoying these paintings x


Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!