An acclaimed exhibit ending a four-month run in New York City has given art lovers the chance to explore a single theme, Christ as the Man of Sorrows, and the Venetian artistic tradition that gave it full flowering.
Through the Gospel of resurrection, says Savi Hensman, God is not just a remote ruler, but intimately present, able to empower the despairing and defeated so that they can play their part in transforming the world.
Soothing 'Christmas messages' have become practically unavoidable, says Simon Barrow. But most of them are bland beyond belief. In truth the birth of Christ confronts us with something much more demanding - a choice between two ways of living in a world dominated by empire.
Some people seem to have got the idea that Ekklesia objects to the BBC broadcasting a Christmas message from the Pope. We don't. We simply think that the BBC ban on non-religious and some minority religious people sharing their reflections in the same 'Thought for the Day' slot should be ended. Giving an immensely powerful individual (and head of state) access to airwaves denied to those he attacked when he was last in Britain also raises wider questions which should not be ducked.
The origins of Christianity are in a dynamic and free movement around Jesus, but much of its history is bound up with institutional religion, says Simon Barrow. The challenge is to continue to respond to the transformative impulse of the Gospel, even in the midst of organisation and complexity.