Those who have ever visited my home in Armagh will probably have noticed two large icons in the hall.
Icons are those wonderful orthodox paintings – painted in a special way / painted with prayer by artists who devote themselves – in every sense - to this kind of painting – or “writing” as the painting of an icon is technically called.
Rich in symbol – telling the truth behind things as well as showing a scene or a person.
One of my icons shows the resurrection marked anastasis – personal to me because it was given to me (having been “written” specially for me by a Rumanian Orthodox friend in memory of my wife shortly after her death – shows the risen Christ standing on what looks like a bridge. Underneath in the dark are locks and keys that we are to understand have been thrown down / vanquished by the resurrection of Christ. The locks and the keys are those things that we think we have control of, but which in fact are imprisoning us.
The icon symbolises how Easter / the resurrection liberates us, releases us from the chains and locks that keep us locked up in our obsessions / preoccupations / fixations that imprison us, even though we may think that we are the controllers of our lives.
Thinking through the different things that imprison people SPIRITUALLY today – we could think of many. I suggest just a few.
What I want, I want now.
The thought of having to wait, waiting to think through precisely why we want or need certain things seems anathema to many people today. Instant satisfaction / not waiting. “Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength”. Patience..... shown by Christ on the mountain side, spending a night in prayer. In the Garden of Gethsemene - listening and waiting. The resurrection shows Christ vindicated.
The prison of having to be on top.
The winner – never put down, never humiliated, never having to apologise. Of getting one’s own back. Christ “giving his back to the smiters” not surrendering to anger. (Isaiah 50) / whipped, humiliated / and crucified on the cross.
Did Judas think he could rouse Christ into getting his own back on those who wanted to destroy him? Jesus goes to the cross rather than defeat his enemies. Resurrection takes us out of the imprisonment for believing that we must be the winner in human terms. Christ the loser is exonerated.
Rights without responsibilities.
We live in a culture where everybody wants to claim their rights - I’m owed that / that’s my right Very few people say “I should do that – it’s my responsibility” There can be no rights without responsibilities (Except for those who are in some way incapacitated.)
The need for a good image.
Looking good, especially for social media, projecting a lie about ourselves. “Look what a good life I have." Then being imprisoned. Greatest danger to young people who want to look good at all costs and then it all collapses. We need to look at the Image of Christ is on the cross. The image that most people recognise as the symbol of Christianity. In human terms the worst image there could be and yet it becomes through the resurrection the ultimate “image” of love and goodness.
We are celebrating today not simply A resurrection. Something so much more. What we are celebrating is that Christ has conquered death and he has also thrown away the things that can lock us into prisons of death even in this life. Those locks / those imprisoning keys have been thrown away into the darkness if we will allow them to remain there.
for the full photo gallery click here