Monday, January 16, 2017

Friday, January 13, 2017

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thursday's bird is weirdly fluffy

This mourning dove puffed itself up during the bitter cold of our snow day on Saturday. At first, I didn't even know what it was! He or she almost looks scaly.

So we all need to find ways to take care of ourselves, even if it makes us look fat.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Very Wordy Wednesday: Welcome

These light fixtures on one of the side doors of the church do not normally stand out to me, but on our snow day Saturday even unlit they signaled "welcome" to any who walked by.

Whenever the church is open, we place a sign on the sidewalk outside this door that says "come in, say a prayer, light a candle." And people do.

Sometimes I come into the church to get something or maybe to sit and say a prayer myself, and occasionally there's someone sitting there alone, praying. I don't always know who the person is. But it means a lot to us that we offer a quiet and beautiful space in this otherwise kind of chaotic, crazy world we live in, a place for people to come and sit and be quiet in the presence of God or beauty or stillness or whatever they are looking for.

To all we say, Welcome.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Night Prayer

O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live
in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day, 
who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never
forget that our common life depends upon each other's toil;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(BCP 134)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Snow Day!

We had a great big snowfall on Saturday - maybe 8 inches of very fluffy stuff. It was beautiful. We kept the bird feeders filled and got lots of business from a variety of birds. Photos of some of those later. Meanwhile, our jazz Kokopelli was still rocking out, while St. Francis was just barely peeking out over his snow blanket.

Stay warm, my friends!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Baptism of Jesus

There are two baptistries in Ravenna, one "Orthodox" and one "Arian." The Orthodox one, called the Neonian Baptistry (after Bishop Neone) was built in the 2nd half of the 5th Century and the mosaic in its roof depicts the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. It's the oldest building in Ravenna.

A few years later, the Gothic ruler of Ravenna, who was an Arian (Arians believed that Jesus was created by the Father and thus inferior to him, a view that was condemned as heresy at the Council of Nicea in 325) built his own baptistery. A very similar mosaic is in that building.

As you can see, the portrayals of the event are very similar. Jesus stands in the water and John and the Holy Spirit (in the form of a dove), along with an old man (who represents either a personification of the River Jordan or a pagan water god, who we see witnesses the true God in Jesus) are nearby.

There are some differences, though. In the Orthodox depiction, Jesus is older, with a beard, and John uses a paten to baptize Jesus (that paten is a 19th century addition by a overenthusiastic mosaic restoration artisan). The Arian baptistry depicts a young (beardless) Jesus and the Holy Spirit's shedding of light and grace upon Jesus' head is unmediated by the paten.

So in many ways, the Arian mosaic seems more appropriate to me. Don't tell anyone.


Friday, January 6, 2017

The Epiphany in 6th Century Art

And so the magi arrive, wearing interesting hosiery (leopard skin prints?), Phrygian caps, and bearing three gifts. Tradition names them Balthassar, Melchior, and Gaspar - some think that this mosaic (finished in 675 C.E.) in the Basilica de Sant'Appolinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy, is the first to portray them with these names.

In the Bible, there are only three gifts brought by an indeterminate number of nameless magi or wise men "from the East." Many scholars believe they are Zoroastrian priests who came from the Parthian (formerly Persian) Empire (present day Iran and Iraq). The gifts, however, suggest the Arabian peninsula where the plants from which came the resins that make myrrh and frankincense. (Presumably, gold is widely available.)

After the magi encountered Jesus, they were warned in a dream not to go back to King Herod and tell him where Jesus was. Instead, they went home by another way.

Perhaps we might consider another route for ourselves, now that we have had twelve days to consider the Incarnation and what it means to us this year for God to come and live among us.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas: Mosaic Mary and Jesus

From the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, the magnificent 6th Century mosaics depict many scenes from the life of Christ. Here we have Jesus sitting in Mary's lap on a beautiful throne, attended to by a quartet of angels. The gold on these mosaics shimmers so beautifully.

Tomorrow, we'll see the Magi approach as the season of Christmas comes to an end with the Epiphany. This also means it's time to take down the tree and put away the decorations. Always a sad thing to do, even while the simplicity of a house without a tree in it is calming.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas: Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Madonna and Child

This lovely Mary and Jesus resides embedded on a side altar in the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. I have no idea who the artist is.

I love Jesus' yellow outfit with all the buttons. Impractical baby-wear, for sure, but very stylish.


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