Tuesday, July 27, 2010

thoughts on icons

Inscape Gallery is hosting an iconographer who sees herself as rebellious. Yet she is drawn to the rich traditions of the icons as a meeting place where faces speak and emotions are brought out to create a kind of encounter that shapes our story.

Icons are foreign to most Protestant Christians. Paul says in Colossians that Christ is the image (icon) of the invisible God. The Reformers took this to mean that no other image was allowed. Even in the Calvin reading group I attend, I hear strong resistance to manger scenes and other pictures, based on the Reformed idea of Christ as the only image.

But it seems that songs create images, stained glass windows are images, and basically anything we use to communicate uses some mode of images. Why resist Icons?

Icons are strangers to us. They have faces we do not understand. But if you live within an iconic tradition, they are the faces of the family. Walking into a church is like walking into a family room. The people are there; the stories are embedded in the depictions. This creates a depth of community that is unparalleled in most of our experience. It creates a remembering who we are and what it means to live in the Gospel narrative.

I use the Rublev icon of the Old Testament Trinity to depict God in hospitable community inviting us to join in. Somehow, the image says more than many books and definitions by portraying relationships and inviting us to sup.

Do you resist, rejoice, or remain undecided on the value of icons in your journey of faith?

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