"When we enter an Orthodox church, the first thing we do is to reverence and kiss the ikons. What does this signify; what does it teach us? We know that we are not reverencing the object itself, the wood and the paint; we understand that our reverence is being shown for the person portrayed in the ikon and that the reverence we show to the ikon passes over to the prototype, to the one portrayed. Since a saint has become a saint because he or she truly has Christ dwelling in them, and since they are glorified by the fulness of Christ in them, and by their own life in Christ, the reverence we show to any ikon, no matter who is portrayed in it, passes to Christ, the source of holiness.
Let us pause for a moment and think: the veneration and reverence we show to an ikon passes over to the prototype. Mankind is created in the ikon (image) of God. This, then, is the first lesson which we must learn from the veneration of ikons. If each human being is created in the ikon of God, and the reverence we show toward the ikon passes over to the prototype, what should our relationship with our neighbour, with each other human being be? If we reverence an ikon, we reverence the prototype; if we hate or disdain an ikon, does this not also pass to the prototype of the ikon?
Brothers and sisters, each human being is an image of the living God. Are we not taught, by our reverence of ikons, that the way in which we treat any other human being is the manner in which we are treating God? If we have love and reverence for another person, does that love and reverence not pass over to the prototype — to God? And if we have hatred, malice or disdain for another person, does not that also reflect to the prototype — to God? This is just what Jesus Christ told us when He said, “As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me” (Mt.25:40).
Therefore, the first lesson we learn from the ikon and the veneration of ikons is that our disposition toward our fellow humans reflects our true disposition toward God. We are taught by our reverencing of the ikon to carefully guard ourselves against hatred, malice and disdain of our neighbour. Every human being, regardless of race, gender or even religion, is created in God’s image. That image may have become darkened by sin, by separation from a living relationship with God, but it is there nonetheless. We must learn to love and reverence our fellow human beings, openly and without reservation, for only then can we truly come to love and reverence God. The fact that we are taught this through the reverencing of ikons, which are dogmatic, also teaches us that we must have this love and reverence without any compromise of the faith. In this way, our very first approach to the ikon opens to us a more clear and certain understanding of the message of Christ’s Gospel.”
- Archbishop Lazar Puhalo
…I believe the Spirit is moving us to question whether God is responsible for or approves of the violence at the Cross, in Scriptures and in our world. Because from the expulsion of Adam and Eve through to the Cross and on to Judgment Day, we in the West since the time of Anselm have woven a story of salvation history that has God all tangled up with violence. Sorting divine violence out from Jesus’ teaching that God is love, in whom there is no darkness at all, has eluded most of our theologies, and our politics as well.
Imagine, for example, what would happen if white kingdom people chose to reverse the white dominance of American culture and in a variety of ways, placed themselves in service to nonwhites? What if white Christians entered into solidarity with nonwhites and made the struggles of nonwhites their own? What if they used their position of privilege not for their own gain but to help bring nonwhites up to their status? What if kingdom people didn’t make themselves dependent on government to resolve racial tensions, but rather assumed responsibility to eradicate centuries of cultural racism in this country in their own lives, in the life of their own congregations, and in the lives of those in their community? What would happen if Christian individuals and entire congregations were intentional in proclaiming - with their lives - that a central reason Jesus died was to reverse Babel (Gen. 11) and to tear down walls of hostility between people (Eph. 2:14-16)?
Such Calvary-like activity would put on display a kingdom love and kingdom unity the world is not capable of and would, for this reason, advance the kingdom of God and attract people to Jesus Christ (John 17:20-26). The ‘power under’ beauty of the kingdom would turn a spotlight on the ugly racism of American culture that is so easy for whites and, therefore, the white-dominated power structures to ignore. It would advance the kingdom of God even while it impacts the sociopolitical structures.
INDISCRIMINATE TABLE FELLOWSHIP
"Whatever Judas’s degree of guilt and whatever his motive, it is extremely important to note that Jesus identifies his betrayer by feeding him. Not by turning over the table and casting him out. Not by tying him to his chair so he cannot carry out his plan, but by feeding him - dipping a morsel into his own cup and giving it to Judas, whose feet he has just washed.
Knowing who Judas is and what he is about to do, Jesus does not throw him out. He bathes him and feeds him, which means that Judas is never - never - excluded from the circle of friends. He is included until he excludes himself.
Jesus went on giving himself away to the one who would give him away, because his faithfulness did not depend on theirs. When he dipped the morsel in his cup and handed it to Judas, he not only revealed who Judas was, he also revealed who he was. The one who feeds his enemies - who goes on treating them as friends - loving them to the end.” | Barbara Brown Taylor
Art | Armenian miniature of the last supper found at Picasa Web
"…he not only revealed who Judas was, he also revealed who he was. The one who feeds his enemies - who goes on treating them as friends - loving them to the end.”
For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.
I want in fact more of you. In my mind I am dressing you with light; I am wrapping you up in blankets of complete acceptance and then I give myself to you. I long for you; I who usually long without longing, as though I am unconscious and absorbed in neutrality and apathy, really, utterly long for every bit of you.