Visual aids for the Incarnation

I suppose I’m a bit slow about iconography,  but it took me ages to realise that there was more the the asymmetry of the Sinai icon of Christ Pantocrator (above) than imperfect craftsmanship.  In fact, it’s generally recognised that one side of Christ’s face depicts his serene divine nature as Son of God, ruling the cosmos, while the other reveals his suffering humanity, with a merciful eye gently turning away from too close a scrutiny of the souls of his onlookers.   It’s a wonderful image of the Incarnation – Christ both God and human, with the cost of taking on humanity somehow written on his face. 

‘Seeing’ that has opened up new depths in the icon for me.  It’s a bit like being able to read a book in a different language.  Which all makes me wonder how much those unfamiliar with Church can ‘read’ when they come in the doors.  If it’s right that we are now (again?) in a much more visual age, we should pay as much attention to explaining what people see in churches as to the intricacies of doctrine.  And, of course, linking the two.

Which is why we are getting together at Holy Trinity to look at crib sets after church on Sunday – bring your own crib and lunch!  I’m still trying to stick together the foam one that never quite got finished at the Christmas crafts morning …

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