Saint Demetrios Christmas Bazaar
Sunday 16th December
Church Hall from 12pm
The Nativity Icon Explained
“All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel'” Matthew 1:22
“The icon is also a theology, a theology in colour, expressing the experience of God with lines and paints rather than with discursive language. The goal of the icon and that of written word about God are the same – to lead others to the mystical experience of God. The icon artistically depicts the experience so that others may approach the mystery and be invited to share in it.”
The icon of the Nativity of our Lord is full of theology. The icon depicts the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God (Logos). Christ is God and man in the same person (Theanthropos) reconciling every human being to God. ‘Majesty took on humility, strength weakness, eternity mortality’ (Leo the Great)
In the top half of the icon, the 3 Magi (tradition names them Caspar, Balthasar, and Melchior) follow the star that leads them to the Christ child and they “fell down
and worshipped Him”(Math 2:11). The angels proclaim to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” The icon depicts the shepherds being the first to worship Christ emphasizing that salvation is come for all mankind.
At the bottom to the right, Jesus is being bathed by midwives to show us that Jesus is truly human. On the left hand side, a figure in shepherd’s clothing speaks with Joseph depicted as an older man (tradition says he was already a widow when he was betrothed to Mary). The shepherd personifies the doubtful thoughts entering Joseph’s mind regarding the provenance of the Virgin’s child. With God’s revelation he overcomes his struggle and becomes the protector of the Mother of God and the guardian of Jesus Christ the Saviour.
The Virgin Mary with Christ are at the centre of the icon. The Virgin is looking towards Joseph, relying on her Lord and son and praying that Joseph will not listen to the evil thought. Next to Christ, in the cave are an ox and donkey reminding us of Isaiah 1:3, “The ox knows his owner and the ass knows his master’s crib. But Israel does not know, and my people do not consider me.”
There was no room for Christ in an inn, and so He was born in a cave. Into a world in darkness is the Light of the world born and the Light “shines in darkness but the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1,5).
Christ is shown born in this dark cave, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a crib. The crib at the same time represents a casket, His swaddling clothes His burial garments and the cave His tomb. This illustrates that the purpose of the Incarnation of Christ was for Him to die with all of us as a man and to be raised to life as God, destroying death and giving life to the world. Christ’s Nativity immediately anticipates His Cross and Resurrection.
Christ is born, Kontakion of the Feast of the Nativity. (English)
(The entire ode in Greek below)
ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΓΕΝΝΑΤΑΙ ΔΟΞΑΣΑΤΕ… ΚΑΤΑΒΑΣΙΕΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥΓΕΝΝΩΝ