Advent, Day 7

LOOK: Jesus, John, and a Neighbor Boy Playing by Cody F. Miller

Miller, Cody F._Jesus, John, and a Neighbor Boy Playing
Cody F. Miller (American, 1972–), Jesus, John, and a Neighbor Boy Playing, 2002. Original mixed media, 36 × 24 in.

American artist Cody F. Miller’s body of work deals with themes of journeying, grace, self-offering, and hope amidst suffering. Many of his mixed-media pieces are keyed to specific biblical texts or to lines of spiritual verse, offering imaginative interpretations. In the work pictured here, he shows the boy Jesus engaged in a ring dance with his cousin John and another playmate, while Mary and Elizabeth peek at them over a clothesline in adoring delight.

Describing his technique, Miller says, “I work with cut paper and paint because I enjoy the interplay of the known and unknown. For the known, I work out many variations of a sketch until the design I’m looking for is finally realized. The unknown comes from my files full of patterns and objects waiting to find a new home. I am repeatedly fascinated when I find that some odd cut-out works better than my original intention.”

I commend to you the set of Christmas cards he offers through his website, which includes three different designs: the Adoration of the Shepherds, the Journey of the Magi, and the Holy Family Asleep.

LISTEN: “A Child Will Lead Us All” by Drew Miller, 2017; on Consolation, 2019

The following video performance is by the Orchardists, with the song’s writer, Drew Miller, on guitar and lead vocals, Janie Townsend on background vocals, Lincoln Mick on mandolin, Kevin Gift Jr. on bass, and Camille Faulkner on violin. The recording on Spotify, released two years later, is from Miller’s solo album Consolation.

The kingdom’s coming as a seed
Smaller than the eye can see
From wanting eyes to set us free
Kingdom come

The kingdom’s coming as the rain
To wash away our castles vain
And cleanse the burdened heart from stain
Kingdom come

The kingdom’s coming as a word
The wisest man has never heard
And foolish lips will speak the cure
Kingdom come

The kingdom’s coming as a song
Mournful dirge and anthem strong
To cheer the ones who sing it wrong
Kingdom come

A child will lead us all home

The kingdom comes from far away
The kingdom has no place to stay
To you who open up the door
Kingdom come

The kingdom’s coming to the poor
Sons and daughters of the Lord
And all that’s lost will be restored
Kingdom come

The kingdom’s coming as a feast
The finest wine for all the least
We’ll taste the broken bread of peace
Kingdom come

The kingdom’s coming slow and true
Till every inch has been made new
And it will ask your life of you
Kingdom come

A child will lead us all home

A brilliant piece of songwriting, “A Child Will Lead Us All” is full of poetic verve and biblical allusiveness, bringing several of Jesus’s parables into conversation with ancient Jewish prophecy and John’s Apocalypse. Christ’s kingdom is coming as seed, rain, a word, a song, a feast, from far away and to the poor. The refrain “A child will lead us all home” is derived from Isaiah 11:6, which describes the messianic kingdom, where heaven and earth join again as one. We are led into that reality by the One who came to us first as an infant, small and vulnerable.