Women in the Bible: Interweavings No 10 June 2016

by Graham Kings

Date added: 27/06/2016

Women in the Bible: Interweavings No 10 June 2016

Silvia Dimitrova is a Bulgarian Orthodox icon writer, based in Bath, England and has become a good friend. Together, we are committed to a missional project of creating seven iconic paintings over 20 years, of women in the Bible, in Bulgarian folk style. These are not icons, for they are signed and are not in traditional style, but they are clearly ‘iconic.’

So far, we have: Mary Magdalene (with Jesus, by the empty tomb); Lydia (with Paul, at Philippi); Priscilla (with Aquila, at Ephesus); and Sarah (with Abraham, at Mamre). For the rest of the series, we plan to cover the stories of Miriam (with Moses), Ruth (with Boaz) and Esther (with Mordecai).

I choose the people and the texts and discuss the theology of the passages with Silvia, and suggest some ideas. She studies the scriptural passages, listens to a recording of me reading them, prays and develops a sketch. We consider it together, make some adjustments and then I do not see it, till it arrives at our home during a party.

In terms of God’s mission, the process itself echoes the significance of ecumenical, international and gender partnerships across cultures, which interpret Biblical passages afresh for the purpose of eliciting wonder, delight and questions. With our guests at home, from all walks of life, these often lead into deep discussions about God and his good news.

These poems and paintings also appear on the Covenant website.

 

Magdalene

Silvia Dimitrova Madalene

  

Who is this woman facing this man?

Head lightly inclined,

Eyes wide open, gazing;

Hands uplifted, palms upward, surprised;

Gorgeously arrayed.

 

Who is this man facing this woman?

Coming from the right,

Profile clear, bearded;

Hand outstretched, palm down;

Gloriously apparelled.

 

Behind her, two angels hover

Reflecting her shape:

Behind him, scented trees lean

Setting the scene:

Below her, a dark opening hints.

All silent witnesses.

 

The eyes have it:

Focus of tension and attention.

One word awakes her: ‘Mary’.

One word responds: ‘Rabbouni’.

 

Their hands shape a triangle

At the centre of meeting:

Her two, shocked and suppliant; 

His one, blessing, calming, sending.

 

Graham Kings   

On a painting by Silvia Dimitrova, ‘Magdalene’, and John 20

 

 

Lydia

Silvia Dimitrova Lydia

  

Who is this woman?

Slender in purple,

Approaching the river,

Head demure,

Hands across

Heart secure.

 

Who are these women?

Accompanying her,

Tumbling, cascading,

Following her gaze,

Slightly perplexed,

Subtly amazed.

 

Who is this man?

Bearded, intriguing,

Joining the women,

Gorgeous in vesture,

Gently announcing

Greeting in gesture.

 

By the river of Philippi,

They sat down and met

And sang the songs of Zion,

Outside the gate of the

Greek city, Roman colony.

 

Lydia, with friends and household,

Dealer in purple, in business astute,

From Thyatira in Asia Minor,

Gentile worshipping God of the Jews.

 

Paul, with friends, Silas and Luke,

Following a vision of Asia Minor,

Meets a woman of Macedonia,

The Good News comes to Europa.

 

With hearts open to the cross of Christ,

They pass through the river of baptism,

To enter the joy of the Kingdom.

Like trees planted by the waterside,

They bring forth their fruit in due season.

 

Graham Kings

On a painting by Silvia Dimitrova and Acts 16

 

Priscilla

Silvia Dimitrova Priscilla

 

Who is this woman?

Pure eyes, profoundly rounded,

Beautiful face, honourably tilted,

Open hands releasing dove.

 

Who is this man?

Noble head, bearded attractive,

Working hands, intently attentive.

Inclined together, touching love.

 

Who are these men?

Weighing a letter, ponderingly,

Carrying a scroll, inscrutably,

Trees and windows hovering above.

 

Four converge on Ephesus,

Silver shrine of Artemis,

Expound the Word of God

And form a church at home in love.

 

Priscilla and Aquila,

Refugees from Roman Emperor,

Host to Paul at Corinth and Ephesus,

Fellow workers in Christ and canvas,

More accurately explain the Way

To the Jew of Alexandria.

 

Apollos, eloquent and scriptural,

Burning and enthusing,

Knowing now the Holy Spirit,

Crosses over to Corinth

And causes chaos. Perhaps,

Composes letter to Hebrews?

 

Paul writes to church at Corinth,

Settling contending leaders.

Paul sows, Apollos waters,

God gives the growth.

Ironically, rhetorically,

Cross empties eloquence.

 

Priscilla and Aquila return to Rome,

Hosting body of Christ in their home.

 

Graham Kings

On a painting by Silvia Dimitrova and Acts 18

 

Sarah

Silvia Dimitrova Sarah

                “Look to the rock from which you were hewn,

           to the quarry from which you were dug.” (Isaiah 51:1)

 

Who is this woman?

Eyes uplifted,

Elderly, beautiful,

Pondering, anxious,

Right hand responsive,

Stopping laughing,

Brow furrowed,

Fingers knobbly,

Left hand supportive,

Relaxed, accepting.

 

Who is this man?

Eyebrows surprised,

Mature, elegant,

Wondering, welcoming,

Left hand cupped

Near to heart,

Beckoning hearth,

Reckoned as righteous,

Right hand blessing,

Thickening calf.

 

Who are these visitors?

Arrayed in radiance,

Mysterious in difference,

Framed by bowing

Oaks of Mamre and

Tent of Meeting,

Together as three,

Emerging out of

Scintillating leaves

Merging as One.

 

Mother of Promise

Of people and nations,

Forever empty,

Who ceased to be

After manner of women,

Laughs to herself,

Then covers it up,

Eventually conceives,

Bears and believes

‘He who laughs.’

 

Father of Promise

Of people and nations,

As good as dead,

Who previously laughed,

Suggesting a son of

Slave girl instead,

Now furnishes

Nourishing relief,

Hope against hope,

Sealing belief.

 

Lord of Promise

Of people and nations,

Proclaiming astonishing

Fertility, fecundity,

Wonderfully righting

Wrongful response:

For incoherent jest,

Co-inherence sows.

From mature oaks,

An acorn grows.

 

“Look to Abraham your father,

     and to Sarah who bore you.” (Isaiah 51:1)

 

Graham Kings

On a painting by Silvia Dimitrova and Genesis 18

 

 
Graham Kings

Graham Kings

 
 
Interweavings

Wood panel

Wood panel

A bronze