Last night in Worcester, church members gathered to celebrate the restoration of Icons as part of the Orthodox Worship service, which previously, had been taken from the early church. It was not lawful to have or show Icons of any type on your person or in your home, and to do so was a crime punishable by death. Part of the ceremony last night included the carrying of Icons by a representative from each church present. As they did so, they sang the following (in part): "We Venerate Thy Sacred Icon O Good One". This implies that we hold dear and precious, "Icons," as we do the cross and bible. It is very much part of our Orthodox Worship. We reverence, and kiss Icons as part of what we do.
Last night, we were not in attendance, as John my husband, is very reactionary to the fast foods and was in distress. This happens to him each year as the adjustment is made, initially. Prefast is over, and we Orthodox are now in the "fast." The fast is not optional. Fasting can be taken under advisement of the parish priest, as circumstances arise.
Today, our priest spoke about last night briefly in his homily, saying in short, that it is too bad that more people can't take more time out of their busy lives and schedule to remember the importance of what our forefathers lost their lives for. They fought for the right to venerate the Icons that were part of the Christan faith from the beginning. It is so true...We need to understand the importance of all that is given to us this time of the year; prayer--embrace the fast; attend the services; receive the Sacraments; and give alms, in order that we may draw near to Christ our Savior.
Today we find ourselves back in the garden, where all mankind became tarnished. The connection to Icons is Image. Man was created by God, unlike all other creations, we have been created in the image and likeness of God.
We are to recall that in that garden, God specifically gave Adam and Eve the order "not to". Some say it was the apple, or fruit from the tree of knowledge. It sounds like the battle in heaven with the angels, one that pridefully challenged the authority of God... That fallen angel was ousted by St. Michael and his army of angels.
Adam and Eve, had "free will" they had to decide...they had a choice. That choice was whether they would or would not obey God when God said, Not To. Pridefully, they would decide to have it their own way. Rejecting God's authority and command, they did it anyway. Disobeying God has it's consequences.
Yes, we live in a fallen world. A world in which people of their own "free will" will have it their own way, because we all know what is best for us. The bible makes it "crystal clear" what God wants of us. Obviously, many do not care about what God wants.
This season of lent, we will feast on new words, some of our priest, who will instruct us on how to learn how to "listen to what God wants of us. What does God want from us," His children? It is clearly found in His Word and in His Commandments.
Now you know most children are obstinate, and they want what they want-- and when, and if, they want it. We hear them question our authority. Can we have it both ways? We are to choose...Think wisely, it has it's reward or punishment. Adam & Eve said "No" to God in the garden, and look where their disobedience got them--anything but paradise. We are all children, God's children...
God is speaking to you through His Word, the Liturgy, and all we hold as part of our Orthodox Worship, and teaching, which has not changed since the beginning of Christian Journey, for some two thousand years. On this Sunday of Orthodoxy, when "We Venerate Thy Sacred Icon, O Good One, " we need to listen ...Come and hear. And like the Icons of the past, let us be "restored" to our rightful place-- Paradise forevermore.
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