Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Things hidden

Those of you who know me IRL, know that I love icons. The parish church where Beloved Husband and I had our marriage solemnized had many icons in the nave. I spent a semester in seminary with the Greek Orthodox where I was introduced to more icons and the realities they represent. This one is one of my favorites ...

It's called the Anastasis icon in Greek but others call it the Harrowing of Hell. It is the icon of Holy Saturday in the Orthodox tradition. In it, Christ is shown raising Adam and Eve out of their graves. On the left of the image are King David, King Solomon and John the Baptist - all Jesus' ancestors/kin in this life. On the right side is a young Moses with the staff, Elijah and another unnamed prophet representing the prophetic tradition of Israel. Below Jesus' feet are the gates of Hell skewed at an angle because they are forever broken. Below that are broken shackles, chains, and keys representing the liberated souls who have been redeemed and released from Death. Finally, there is one skeletal figure still bound up under the feet of Christ - that's Death itself personified.
Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling down death by death
And to those in the tombs
He is restoring life
In the Western Church, we often think of Holy Saturday as a day when Jesus "rested in the tomb." This icon reminds us that there was more going on than met the eye! Christ was not resting at all - he was destroying death forever.

It is a reminder to us that when it appears on the surface of our lives that nothing much is happening or perhaps we find ourselves stuck ... God in Christ is doing something beyond what we can perceive in the moment. What we can see is only a small and limited view. There is more going on that meets the eye!


Jeremy M said...

Thank you for posting this. Such a beautiful icon and a powerful message that it displays.

Reverend Mom said...

You are welcome Jeremy. I hope you'll hold on to this icon's message in those times when things feel dark or stuck in your life. Blessings!