Welcome To The Religion Network! Originally published 12-21-06
WELCOME! I'm Lisa Bowman. The Religion Network is an interfaith web site providing daily inspiration,
quotes and religious resources. Faith and religion are precious gifts that bless. However you worship,
I hope this site enhances your journey. Let us meet regularly and build a spiritual network.
If you'd like to know my story, click on biography.__________________________________________________________________________________________________
High priest of the Temple
Hannah's Song of Prayer is a song of gratitude to Hashem for the birth
of her son Samuel, for whom she had fervently prayed. Samuel, you'll
recall, heard G-d calling him three times in the night and went to the
Temple Kohen Eli, thinking it was he who had called him. Eli realized
that G-d was blessing the boy with a gift. Indeed, Samuel's
ensuing prophesies do come to pass.
Earlier in 1 Samuel, Hannah had prayed with great emotion
in the Temple to Hashem, for she was barren and longed for a child.
Eli had heard her tearful prayers and thought her drunk. When
she finally returns to the temple with young Samuel, she finds
Eli and explains her story. Then she prays this eloquent
song, which is excerpted here:
Then Hannah prayed and said:
My heart exults in Hashem,
my pride has been raised through Hashem;
my mouth is opened wide against my antagonists,
for I rejoice in Your salvation.
There is none as holy as Hashem,
for there is none besides You,
and there is no Rock like our God.
Hashem impoverishes and makes rich,
He humbles and He elevates.
He raises the needy from the dirt,
from the trash heaps He lifts the destitute,
to seat (them) with nobles and to endow
them with a seat of honor --
for Hashem's are the pillars of the earth,
and upon them He set the world.
He guards the steps of his devout ones,
but the wicked are stilled in darkness;
for not through strength does man prevail.
1 Samuel 2: 1-2, 7-9
The Stone Edition Tanach
Mesorah Publications, Ltd.
Did you know that the Code of Jewish Law, the Shulhan Arukh,
stipulates that while the Chanukkah candles burn, no one is to
engage in work....especially women. One of the reasons for this
special consideration for women is the story of the courageous
Judith. Interestingly, this story is found in the Apocrypha, books
from the Biblical period that are in the Catholic collection, but not
the Hebrew Bible. However, a Hebrew variation of Judith's story
was read on Chanukkah during the Middle Ages.
Judith is a brave and beautiful woman. When a wicked general
named Holofernes attacks her town of Bethulia, she comes up
with a plan. The elders ignore her, for they plan to surrender.
But Judith argues against their decision:
Who are you, that have put God to the test this day, and are setting
yourselves up in the place of God among the sons of men? You are put-
ting the Lord Almighty to the test - but you will never know anything!
You cannot plumb the depths of the human heart, nor find out what a
man is thinking; how do you expect to search out God, who made all
these things, and find out his mind or comprehend his thought?
Judith convinces the elders to let her go into the enemy camp for one day. Dressed beautifully,
she carries food and wine. Judith is captured and brought before Holofernes. He is captivated
by her and her prophesy that he will capture Bethulia. She offers to celebrate with him in his
tent, whereupon she coaxes him to drink until he falls asleep, drunk. Judith cuts off his head
and puts in her sack, carrying it back to the elders, who place the head on the walls of the city.
The enemy is deeply shaken. If a Jewish woman is this brave, how can they hope
to conquer the men in battle? Judith has saved her city.
(Source: MyJewishLearning.com; "Hanukkah: The Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration"
by Dr. Ron Wolfson,
"The Annunciation" (c. 1608) Caravaggio
THE VIRGIN MARY
Mary's story begins with the appearance of an angel, thought to be the archangel Gabriel.
Known as The Annunciation, Mary wonders at the angel's message that she will bear the Son
of God. "How can this be, since I know not any man?" she asks. Nevertheless, she humbly
accepts the miracle: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord." Her child is born in
the crudest of stables, among domestic animals, yet the holy event is heralded by angels
and witnessed by local shepherds who see a great star shining over the birthplace.
Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest …
you who have had so far to come.)
Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world. Charmed by doves' voices,
the whisper of straw, he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
all years. Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught
that I might be free, blind in my womb
to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.
by Luci Shaw
Courtesy of ctlibrary.com
And now the Last Word:
Give us, O God, the vision which can see
Your love in the world in spite of human failure.
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness
in spite of our ignorance and weakness.
Give us the knowledge that we may continue
to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set
forward the coming of the day of universal peace.
Christmas Eve Prayer
Apollo 8 space mission, 1968
In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don't try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.
Tao Te Ching
by Lisa Bowman