Icon or Iconoclast?Posted: October 26, 2015 | Author: Fr. Irenaeus | Filed under: Etcetera | Tags: iconoclasm, iconography, re-creation in Christ, Seventh Ecumenical Council |Leave a comment
I recently had the great joy and pleasure of serving at St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church in Boise, Idaho. Since it is in the ROCOR jurisdiction it is on the Old Calendar. So, Sunday, October 25, commemorated the Seventh Ecumenical Council and the Church’s ultimate victory in the Iconoclastic Controversy. The destruction of icons had officially ended, and the restoration and writing of new icons could begin.
However, iconoclasm existed long before the controversy began. Truly, the Serpent was the first iconoclast: he deceived and marred those who were created in the image of God. Though the image of God was not lost, the integrity was lost. Humanity lost communion with God, and with the creation they were to serve as God’s vice-regents and priests. Rather than serving and cultivating creation in love, its exploitation began. Rather than upholding the dignity of humanity, humans began to degrade other humans. The complaint of the Psalmist truly was the complaint of all humanity: “The enemy has pursued me. He has crushed my life to the ground, and has made me sit in darkness like those long dead” (LXX 142, 143).
But we were not left alone to a never ending lament and sorrow. God intervened and rescued us from such darkness, bondage, and alienation. We were delivered from sin and its death. We were liberated by the one God-man “commando raid” of the Incarnate God, Jesus Christ, the image and likeness of God (“…If you have seen me, you have seen the Father…” John 14: 9). Christ came as our Victor. He liberated us. He re-created us. He restored the image of God in us. He exalted us even beyond our original status.
With the image of God restored in us as we are in Christ, we are 3-D icons. We are living, moving, breathing icons and priests. As such icons and priests we declare to all of creation, by our actions, what God is like. Hence, we are given an ethic in the category of an ethic of being. By this ethic we are to understand this: we are to bear God to all creation by holy actions and prayers and words of blessing, and bear creation to God by our prayers and offerings.
Thus, we are either truthful icons demonstrating God’s love to humanity and creation, or we are false icons that tell lies about what God is like. We are icons or we are iconoclasts.
While at St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church I admired the iconography of Fr. Deacon Matthew Garrett (www.holy-icons.com). His icons would not exist apart from the holy decisions of the Fathers of the Seventh Council. And in light of this Council’s statement, all the more are we be true icons moving in and for theworld after we are dismissed from each Divine Liturgy. Acting as true icons we faithfully serve humanity and creation as our Lord intends. By this we are in harmony and solidarity with not only Jesus, but all humanity and all creation, and we are in harmony with those presented to us by the 2-D icons which we honor. All is complete. All is whole.