In today’s Epistle (Galatians 6:11-16), we hear the words: “what counts is a new creation.” That is what we are trying to do. We come to church and see the icons, these are people, scenes and events transfigured by God into holy events and holy people. We come here and experience bread and wine transfigured into the Body and Blood of Christ. We come here as individuals and are transformed by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, God’s own church.
What we experience here, we can do in our own homes and lives as God’s priests. We can transfigure and transform every moment into an iconic moment. The icons shouldn’t just be on the walls of the church, we can make our lives iconic. In fact we are each an icon of God – we each are created in God’s image (icon) [Genesis 1:26-27]. When we live as Christians, when we live in God’s likeness, we make each moment and each event iconic because we make God’s image present in us.
~ “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16-17) ~
Fr. Schmemann points out it is this world God loves. It is this life God loves. No other.
This world and this life are to be communion with God. God offers this to us, but we can also strive to make it so.
It is this world where there are hurricanes, and earthquakes and war and political strife and financial struggle – this is the very world into which Christ became incarnate. He chose to enter into this world because of His love for us.
There is something about this world which God loves and is not willing to give up on. He wants to transform this world, not replace it with some other world.
God loves this world
God wishes to save this world God can transfigure this world.
Even with all the problems of this world – natural disasters, human made disasters, sin, evil, human hubris, God still loves this world because He sees the goodness in it and He still sees His image in us! God has entered into this world and share our human nature because God loves us and this world.
We can cooperate with God by being God’s priests and transforming our lives and what we do into a daily spiritual offering to God. We can make ourselves image bearers of God and can make our lives, our homes, our time on earth to be iconic and to reveal the presence of God to everyone.
God’s Love John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
St. Irenaeus of Lyons (d. 202AD) writes:
“God created Adam in the beginning, not because he needs the human race, but so that he might have a recipient of his generosity. Moreover, God commanded us to follow Christ, not because He has any need of our service, but because He wants to give us salvation. To follow the Saviour is to share in salvation, just as to follow the light is to gain the light. People who are in the light do not themselves provide the light but are illuminated and made bright by it; they do not contribute anything to it but, by being illuminated, they receive the benefit of the light. Similarly, to serve God does not mean giving him any gift, nor has God any need of our service. On the contrary, it is He who gives to those who serve Him life, immortality and eternal glory. He rewards those who serve him without deriving any benefit Himself from their service: He is rich, He is perfect, He has no needs. God requests human obedience so that His love and His pity may have an opportunity of doing good to those who serve Him diligently. The less God has need of anything, the more human beings need to be united with Him. Consequently, a human being’s true glory is to persevere in the service of God.”
(Drinking from the Hidden Fountain, p 27)