Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Meeting:
An Icon Read through Orthodox Prayers


One of my very favorite books was a "gift" of sorts from Geoffrey Wainwright, who assigned it in his theology of icons course at Duke.  He said that he wanted us to buy text books we would be glad to have purchased years later and that would be suitable (and beautiful) on a coffee table.   The Meaning of Icons has been every bit the treasure he hoped.

Today the Church remembers the Presentation (or Meeting) of Christ in the Temple.  Ouspensky and Lossky tell the story through the lens of the Orthodox prayers.  Through this lens, the encounter between Jesus and Simeon is nothing less than the climactic encounter between the Old and New Testaments.  Simeon, the old guard, receiving the new, as a child.  And then there is the child himself, the humility, mystery, and majesty of this moment:

"The Ancient of Days makes Himself a child according to the flesh," and "He who gave the Law to Moses on Sinai...to observe His Law has Himself brought to the temple."

My favorite part, though, is this:

"The Christ-Child is 'seated on the arms of the old man as on a throne.'  Ode 9 of the Matins makes Him say: 'I am not held by the old man: it is I Who hold him, for he asks Me forgiveness."

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