This icon depicts the Christ in eschatological glory. The blue spheres around him, without beginning or end, represent eternity, and the red squares represent time. The Greek letters in his halo signify “I am who I am,” God and human. Christ bridges time and eternity.
The Old Testament prophets had fantastic visions of God in glory, and their imagery was repeated in the New Testament. Six-winged seraphim surround Christ’s throne, and Ezechial’s winged beasts emerge from the four directions, now representing the four evangelists. All except for Christ are painted as though transparent, to emphasize that they are spirits. Christ is painted with bold colors, because he is human. Material creation is enthroned in the highest heavens. This is the core of our faith as Christians.
Misguided emphasis has sometimes led Christians to spurn the material world. This world of ours is called to inconceivable glory, however -- both because it was created by God, but also because it was assumed into God’s very person. Because of Christ, there is no thing nor any person in this world that does not command our respect. As St. Gregory of Nyssa said many centuries ago, if only we would take off our shoes -- referring to the story of Moses and the burning bush -- we would discover that all ground was sacred.
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