What have you learned by “seeing” the Gospel?

Several weeks ago Hovak talked about the Good Shepherd (Tiffany) Window that fascinated him growing up. Grace Episcopal Church in Port Orange, FL has maintained the window over the years. We are awaiting some pictures of the 2 Tiffany Windows in their original church. As if our conversation was overheard this article appeared recently in the Episcopal News Service:

[Diocese of Southern Ohio] Four rare Tiffany stained glass windows have a new home: the Cincinnati Art Museum will unveil them this month as part of a new and permanent exhibit.The windows, badly in need of repair and conservation, were removed in 2010 from the former St. Michaels & All Angels church in urban Cincinnati and sold to the art museum. Proceeds supported the founding of a community ministry that is now housed at the Avondale facility. Gabriel’s Place seeks to encourage community-based enterprise. The urban center operates a community garden and kitchen, as well as a hoop house that provides fish and fresh produce for local businesses and residents.

via New life, light for Tiffany windows.

Read the whole article to find “Poor Man’s Bible.” Again, to reinforce what we have said, and part of the reason for our posts in the Art & Music category we read:

“While colored glass dates to ancient times, stained glass as a form of art and storytelling became prominent in the Middle Ages. A largely illiterate population could learn about the stories of the Bible from the illustrations in the stained glass windows. Some have called these windows the “Poor Man’s Bible,” because they, along with carvings, paintings and mosaics, could translate the narratives of the Bible to a population that couldn’t read.”

Again, your are invited to read the whole article, including this instructional piece: New life, light for Tiffany windows.

Your comments are always welcome. Have you ever seen a Tiffany Window up-close? Do you have a sculpture, carving, painting, or mosaic that has sustained or inspired your faith? Please share.

Ready for a word order meditation?

The words are familiar: “The Lord is my shepherd ….” I have recited this Psalm many times with the dying, with the bereaved, with those struggling to find the strength to move on, or the strength to face a fear-filled future.

I have been with agitated men and women of a certain age, robbed of mental acuity by illness or injury, and watched calm wash over them and through them, watched peace come to them as I recited the words of Psalm 23.

But, change the word order and you will have the heart of our conversation in the Sunday Morning Forum as it gathers at 9:00 am on Sunday, April 29, 2012.

The Lord is my shepherd … . Ah, peace, strength, and …

IS the Lord my shepherd …? Ah. Wait. What? How dare you suggest …

In the readings appointed for Sunday we hear:

The Lord is my Shepherd … (Psalm 23:1)

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us … (1 John 3:16)

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep….” (John 10:11)

Look through the ups and downs of your life.

  • In what ways have these words of scripture been true for you?
  • When have these words been part of your prayers?
  • Are you ready to risk sharing a bit of your history with the group.
  • IS the Lord your shepherd?
  • What has this come to mean for you?
  • Have you always been secure in this knowledge?
  • Have you ever been secure in this knowledge?

Telling our stories of encounter with the Risen Lord, the Good Shepherd, is a fulfillment of our Baptismal Covenant to “proclaim by word … the Good News of God in Christ.”

I invite you to leave a comment, even a story, here. Let your words open the mystery and meaning of speaking this way about God and our relationship with God.

B Easter 4, Art for April 29, 2012

Catacomb of Priscilla
Click for Wikipedia article.

from the Catacomb of Pricilla
Click for Wikipedia image.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.

The Good Shepherd, Fresco, (ca. AD 225), Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome, Italy

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Related post “B Easter 4, April 29,2012

From the time of the early church until today, images and symbols have become part of Christianity but in the first several hundred years there were very few. The fish and the lamb were early symbols and the Good Shepherd was among those that followed. In depicting aspects of their faith, image makers (now called artists) often used established symbols from non-Christian sources when they were appropriate and had meaning in a Christian context.

Because the image of Christ as a shepherd is such an established part of church art today, one could easily regard it as being an image that is unique to Christianity. Its origin, however, goes back to prototypes found in Archaic Greek sculpture. A calf, goat, or ram on the shoulders of a man is found in works that were created several hundred years before the coming of Christ; Roman copies are known also. The subject of the Greek “Ram Bearer” is of an animal that is being carried to the place where it will be sacrificed. This pre-Christian image was adapted and used by Christians, not as a sheep or a goat being carried to the place of sacrifice, but rather to depict Christ as the Good Shepherd; the loving guardian and protector.

The painter of the Good Shepherd in the Catacomb of Priscilla was familiar undoubtedly with Roman copies of Greek sculpture and also familiar with paintings of pastoral scenes in Roman homes. The facial characteristics of Christ in this fresco are similar to figures seen in wall paintings of that time. He is beardless, without a halo, and not dressed in long white robes as he is depicted in later works. In Christian art, halos had not come into use as a symbol at the time this was painted.

It is thought that depictions of Christ were slow in developing because image makers were not sure how to portray him. Christ’s characteristics tended to differ according to social context. The Eastern Church portrayed Christ with a beard but in the Western Church often he was clean shaven until as late as the twelfth century. During the Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance periods the image of Christ continued to evolve and even today there is debate regarding his true appearance. The image of Christ in the Catacomb of Priscilla reflects the time period in which it was created.

The image itself, however, was not created simply out of someone’s imagination. It had its roots in many centuries before the advent of Christ.


© 2012 Hovak Najarian

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