Adoration of the Kings in the Snow
Tempera on panel, 35 x 55 cm
Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur
With the lamp softly burning upon my table top and snow softly falling in the early morning of the day after the Epiphany, there is some time to reflect on what has past. The "Adoration of the Kings" in the Snow" surely is not the typical Reformation painting of the Epiphany. Pieter the Elder, a flemish painter, Lucas Cranach the Elder he is not. Pieter the Elder does do the typical 16th century motif in this; the magi come to adore the Christ child not in historical Palestine, but in a typical European village. It is representative of the best Christ for you right where you are at and in the case of this painting, Christ in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a 16th century Flemish village. This also is perhaps the first painting in the history of European art to depict falling snow. If the Adoration of the Magi were to occur in Saint Louis, MO today, the kings would be traveling through the falling snow.
In the painting, the events of ordinary life transpire. Soliders have started a fire near the manager. People are traveling in the snow. Villagers are getting water out of a hole in the ice on a pond. The Virgin Mary and the Christ child almost go unnoticed on the far left side of the painting. This is much like it was when the Epiphany took place in Palestine. The majority of people went on with life as normal, carrying out their daily activities, with no notice of the Christ child, his mother, or the kings who came to adore Him.
So it was for me yesterday on the Epiphany, caught day long meetings at the International Center, headquarters of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. With deadlines, busyness, meetings, and important things to do, it is easy to miss Jesus in His Epiphany. In fact, at least for me at the International Center, Jesus might have entirely missed the Epiphany were it not for an organ prelude I heard and a devotion Rev. Matt Harrison spoke at the front of a meeting. Harrison pulled out his tattered and worn Greek Testament and read from Matthew 2:10:
To hear the "joy" of the Matthew 2:1-12 in Greek, from the Greek/Latin New Testament.Com:
Follow along with the Greek text from The Online Greek Bible: