The backdrop is Table Mountain, offering its majestic beauty and silence to the most sacred of moments. In the distance, away from Table Mountain we see in green and blue the Tygerberg Hills. God sends the Angel Gabriel to Mary. Lights shines from above, right through the Angel, onto Mary. She conceives by the Holy Spirit, further emphasised by the dove. Angel has in his left hand a sceptre with a white pearl at the end, symbol of wisdom. In his right hand, shaped in the form of a cross, a red disa, the flower of Cape Town, and symbol of royalty. Mary kneels in silence and deep meditation to listen to the Angel. We see the rose, symbol for Mary the Mystical Rose, which symbolising the mysteries of the life of Jesus in Mary, and a reminder that these mysteries are prayed in the Rosary. Mary wears traditional African blue and purple, colours of royalty. There is an air of expectation as we see the two figures, man and woman, Adam and Eve, waiting to hear Mary’s answer to the Angel. She gave the answer God had expected of them: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word. This was the answer God had wanted throughout the Old Testament as He sealed a covenant with His People. They needed to be just that: the handmaid of the Lord, willing to do His will. For Adam and Eve, it is a moment of relief.
They stand for all of us. Sin came into the world through their disobedience. Salvation begins with Mary’s full cooperation with God. All the sin of humankind is overshadowed by the Mary, the Woman of Light. Behind Mary we see a burning bush, reminding us of Moses who wanted to see why the bush was burning, yet not burning out. It was because God was in the burning bush. Mary becomes the burning bush as she receives the Son of God in her womb. According to Ephraim the Syrian, she is not consumed by the fire in her because of the presence of the Son of God. The colour green takes us back to heaven. St Hildegard of Bingen believes that green is the colour of heaven. All the colours taken together, give us the rainbow. The story of the New Covenant begins.
An uncanny visitor is the little mouse. Totally insignificant, it symbolises our smallness, and we, too, can be onlookers at the Annunciation.
The Birth of Jesus
The setting is a cave where Jesus was born on the Shepherds Field. However, our cave has Khoisan painting to include the history of the first inhabitants of the Cape. They are blessed by the birth of the Saviour. From top down we see yellow shapes like diamonds that form the star constellation of the Southern Cross, which is in the Southern hemisphere and plays an important role for direction at night. The ox, the lamb and the donkey are present. A lamb is very curious to see the baby and stands up to have a closer look. The red roses, symbol of royalty and love. We see the figs and the grapes, as symbols of love, taken from the Song of Songs. A nectar bird with the colours of the rainbow symbolising the Covenant is among these fruits. Mary lovingly holds the baby in her arms for everyone to see. Joseph stands protectively and reverently over them. The whole scene radiates tranquillity, harmony and peace. This atmosphere is further enhanced by the dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit.
Presentation in the Temple (small window)
Mary and Joseph are in the temple to present Jesus and bring their offering of two turtle doves. They meet the old prophet, Simeon, and Anna the prophetess. Mary, dressed in blue, stretches out her hands to Simeon who looks with longing and his arms going out to receive and bless the Child. Joseph stands behind Mary, dressed in the ceremonial colours of red and blue, like a king, from the House of David. In his left hand he has the staff of a shepherd, the symbol of protection and leadership. There is a plant with thorns and blossoms symbolising Simeon prophesying Mary’s future pain for Jesus. Simeon has a sash over his shoulder with the colours of the rainbow, symbolising the old covenant. Joseph has a pair of turtle doves, his offering in the temple. One of the doves is symbolise the Holy Spirit inspiring Simeon to make his prophecy about the Child and Mary. Hannah, kneels in adoration, dressed in rose, the colour of joy. She is waiting for her turn to pay homage to the Child and his Mother. There is a big white lit candle with the letters Alpha and Omega as Jesus is revealed to his people and the world. The Presentation of our Lord is also called Candle Mass when the candles are blessed.
Epiphany of our Lord
The atmosphere of the window is very ceremonial and festive, with the golden frame around it. The three kings have finally made it to Bethlehem, as the star came to stand over the birthplace of Jesus. Mary, sitting upright, forms a throne for the Child Jesus, whom she holds with arms outstretched towards the kneeling king. Jesus opens his arms towards the king. Joseph, with staff in hand, watches quietly but ready with the staff in his hand. The three kings bring their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They are from different parts of the world, symbolising the revelation of the divinity of the Child to all nations. In front of Mary is a bowl of lemons as the sponsor’s husband always offered lemons to guests, symbol of health and underpinning the title of Mary, Mother of Good Health. We see the white chrysanthemum, the favourite flower of the sponsor’s husband for his wife, and here the symbol of love. Next to Mary we see the Drummer Boy playing his drum. This one of our favourite Christmas Carols. The lion and the lamb lay together, symbol of peace and harmony in Creation.
The setting is a hill landscape with simple houses in the background. It can be mine or yours. A golden arc surrounds the scene. The sun breaks forth for the dawn of a new day. The rays of the sun envelop the two women, Mary and Elizabeth. Having heard that Elizabeth, her cousin, was six months pregnant, Mary hurried to visit her. Elizabeth, tallish, wears a blue scarf and a rose dress of joy. She holds her body as the child in her womb, John the Baptist, leapt for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice. Mary wears yellow and blue (the colours of the flag of Madeira). This is the women’s window as we see women with palm branches of victory joining in the moment. They celebrate the dignity of woman and the joy of motherhood. The plants are aloes and an olive tree, symbols that the desert has begun to bloom.