|Welcome To The Religion Network!
I'm Lisa Bowman. The Religion Network is an interfaith web site providing inspiration, quotes and
religious resources. This Home Page is changed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You are warmly
invited to read every quote posted for each theme, or simply to read those that interest you. They are
offered in the belief that inspiration can be found in all spiritual faiths, and that finding the commonality
in religions is more important than pointing up the differences. Religion is precious gift that blesses the
individual and uplifts the community. 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.
On Today's Theme:
"Mystic Nativity," by the Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli
graces our Christmas page. Painted in the last decade of his life, it
is the only surviving work signed by the Italian master. Is it because
he painted it for personal devotion, either for himself or for someone
close to him? Or did he single out this painting because it touched
him in some unique and deeply spiritual way?
For certain, this is a unique depiction among nativity paintings.
Across the top, Botticelli writes in Greek, an explanation to the viewer
that this painting is based on the Apocalyptic vision of St. John of the
second coming of Christ. Indeed, looking carefully at the bottom of the
we can make out little demons scattering into holes in the ground. This
suggests the Second Coming of Christ rather than the birth of Jesus.
At the apex of the picture we see that heaven has opened, its golden
light enveloping the unbroken circle of ecstatic angels dancing above
the holy scene.
Dangling from these angels' olive branches of peace
are golden crowns. Are they for the royal newborn, Jesus? No, they
celebrate Mary, for their scrolls read 'Mother of God,' 'Bride of God,'
and 'Sole Queen of the World.'
As we study the Holy Mother, it becomes obvious that she and
the baby Jesus are outsized in relation to the other figures. This
signifies their importance and their holiness, a practice familiar
in the symbolic painting of icons. Joseph kneels behind his son.
His face is buried. Is he asleep or overcome with joy and awe?
Surely there has never been a nativity scene portraying such kinetic
rejoicing in the birth of Jesus.
Perhaps it is thus because Botticelli
simultaneously is telling the story of the Lord's birth and resurrection.
The angels are not simply heralding a human birth of a divine being; no,
they dance and sing telling of the first, the second and the Eternal Coming
of Love, complete and all-encompassing; healing and saving; giving
and sacrificing in the ultimate Masterpiece of the Father.
This is Botticelli's gift to us at Christmas.
- Lisa Bowman
Mystic Nativity, circa 1500
Sandro Botticelli (1444-1510)
Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that
we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate and open the door
of love all over the world. Let kindness
come with every gift and good desires with
every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the
blessing which Christ brings, and teach us
to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to
be Thy children, and Christmas evening bring
us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
Scottish novelist, poet
The Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds
Giotto di Bondone (c. 1267-1337)
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the
fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an
angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord
shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel
said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings
of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this
day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe
wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. "
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of
of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
Luke 2: 1, 3-14
The Holy Bible
New King James Version
But peaceful was the night
Wherein the Prince of light
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The Winds,with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kis't,
Whispering new joys to the mild Ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While Birds of Calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.
And though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The Sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame,
As his inferior flame,
The new-enlight'n'd world no more should need;
He saw a greater Sun appear
Than his bright Throne, or burning Axletree could bear.
Ring out ye Crystal spheres,
Once bless our human ears,
(If ye have power to touch our senses so)
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time;
And let the Bass of Heav'n's deep Organ blow,
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to th' Angelic symphony.
John Milton (1608-1674)
English writer best known for the poem, "Paradise Lost"
Excerpts from "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity"
Stanzas V, VI, XIII
Written December, 1629
...and now, The Last Word:
Welcome, all Wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span.
Summer to winter, day in night,
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little One! Whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth.
Richard Crashaw (c. 1613-1649)
From "In the Holy Nativity of Our Lord God;
A Hymn Sung as by Shepherds"
Random Bonus Quote:
Christmas, my child, is love in action.
Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.
Dale Evans Rogers (1912-2001)
American singer known as "Queen of the West," wife of Roy Rogers