Presentation on theme: "In Western Christianity, it’s agreed that human nature is corrupt. Roman Catholic teaching thinking was that, since this is so, if God is to be born of."— Presentation transcript:
In Western Christianity, it’s agreed that human nature is corrupt. Roman Catholic teaching thinking was that, since this is so, if God is to be born of a woman, then she, at least, must be an exception to this corrupt nature, so the idea followed that the mother of Christ must have been born pure of corruption - immaculate. This, along with the title, “Queen of Heaven,” led to the sense among Protestants that she had been elevated by the historical church beyond the human norm - worshiped, in fact. For the Eastern Orthodox, Mary’s importance is that she is one of us - the great example, not the great exception. Because she humbly accepted God’s choosing her to bring Him into the world He created, she is called the “New Eve.” She did what Eve in the Garden turned away from - every human being is meant to do spiritually what she did physically: accept & nurture the living God who wants to enter into us & be our divine & eternal source of life & goodness. That is the meaning of the “Icon of the Sign” - it is the sign of God, who Created the Heavens & Earth, making his “Tent” or sanctuary, within the temple of His Created Creature. For us to do this requires a humility like His mother’s - instead of trying to live life independent of God. The Theotokos: “Mother of God”
The eternal Son of God, his eternal Word, enters our humanity with a mission. He will be the “New Adam,” the one who will be everything Adam was meant to be in the Garden - even in spite of the presence of death in the world. Only He, who is not only fully and perfectly human, after all, but is also fully God, can accomplish this. As he lives a human life he makes everything Holy, just as human beings were meant to do by living a life without separation from His Father. His main task will be to destroy death and open it as the new path to God for us humans; transforming it from the barrier that it is before He comes into the world. After being welcomed into the city of David as the true King, He will be Crucified, and yes “pay the price” - but not simply the price to Redeem us from death and the emptiness of Hell - beyond that it is also the price it costs God, and us in His humanity, to destroy the power of death so that we can life as we were created to live: - from God’s own life and goodness. Being able to live like that is the content of Salvation, according to Eastern Christian teaching – His life cannot be ended by death! For all these reasons, in icons of the Nativity, He is wrapped in “swaddling” in a foreshadow (shadow image before the time) of the winding sheet that will wrap His body when he is taken down from the Cross. In the Tomb, a cave like the cave He was born in, he will transform the meaning of death into our passageway into His eternal life. The Nativity (Birth) of Jesus, Christ
Even though Jesus is without sin of his own, He asks John to baptize him. Just as He humbled his divinity (we are taught, amazingly, that God is humble), He enters the chaos of the waters of death that are our baptismal waters. Creation, meant to be a place of life for us is a place of death. He has come to change that. Spirits of evil rebellion against God’s Dominion are seen lurking in the waters. When he enters the waters all Creation senses the presence of the Creator in His created world - the knowledge goes wherever water flows. His Baptism is a foreshadowing and a similar “type” of event to His coming descent into Hell to destroy the power of death. Once He arises from death - bringing our humanity with Him - the waters of Christian Baptism will be prepared as the event of our entrance into His life: - our Baptism into a death like His - that is, a death that is the passage into divine life, even before our “falling asleep” when the body and soul are separated, temporarily, by our own death. The special half-circle of the “nimbus” at the top of the icon is the presence of God the Father who says at Christ’s Baptism, “this is My Son.” And the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus “like a dove.” The Baptism of Christ is called the “Theophany” or “Epiphany” and “Trinity Day,” by Eastern Orthodox because Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are first revealed at the Baptism of the the Son of God in the waters of Creation that He purifies & makes life- giving for our Baptism into His life. The Baptism of Jesus, Christ
Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to the top of Mount Tabor. There they “see” Him reveal His Glory “so far as they can bear it.” They see Moses with the Tables of the Law and the Prophet Elias (Elijah). Law & Prophets witness to and are fulfilled in Christ’s transfiguration of our humanity in Himself. The “Light of Mount Tabor” is understood by the Eastern Orthodox to be an “uncreated light” - the divine energies of God Himself, which we can “see”, but not merely with our physical eyes. Mystical tradition that says this spiritual experience has often happened to “spiritual athletes” who spend their lives in a simultaneously physical and spiritual life of prayer (hesychasm), calling on God in the silence of the “prayer of the heart.” As defended against attacks by Western Christian theologians, Orthodox monks like St. Gregory Palamas will be affirmed by Eastern Orthodox Churches as giving a true teaching on this mystical reality. In the 19th Century, St. Seraphim of Sarov will explain that we need not be hesychast monks to see the uncreated light of the divine presence in one another - Apostle’s Experience of His Transfiguration but St. Seraphim was a very humble Holy lover of God - he saw the light of Christ in many he met & the Holiness was as much in his seeing of others as it is in those he met.
Jesus is Crucified, and it is as physically terrible as it is in Mel Gibson’s movie, but Orthodox have mixed feelings about the movie because such a graphic portrayal of the Crucifixion can’t show what icons show: Christ is enthroned on the Cross as the King of Creation destroying death by His suffering & saving death. Crucifixion of Jesus, Christ Death takes Him thinking to have victory over God and man, but Christ-God invades Hell, frees our human nature [Adam & Eve in the icon], as Christ tramples the gates of Hell], & destroys the power of death over us forever - so long as we unite ourselves to Christ’s divine-human life. Once He arises, ascends, & seats Himself again, but now in our physical humanity, at the right hand of the Father; & sends the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the New Creation is established - the divine-human life “in the world but not of the world that is his Body, “the Church.”
III. Liturgy & Sacrament 2. Judaic/Hellenistic/Christian Liturgy in the East 1. The Carolingian Mass in the West - has its roots in the ancient Latin Mass, but is purified to it’s type - authoritative legal court ritual - by Charlemagne’s court ritual based reforms of the Mass. - But, in both cases, it is what is being done that is critical. - has roots in Hellenistic Judaism & consciously keeps this continuity by, between the 4th & 8th Centuries, fulfilling the human context of Greek culture (Christian Hellenism), with Christ as its content, once Christianity is legalized by Constantine.
SACRAMENT - Content in Context 1. Legal Context of Western Christianity: HOW MANY? Roman Church - 7 - Baptism, Confirmation, Communion, Marriage Contract, Ordination, Unction, Confession WHAT DO THEY “DO?” - how do they “work?” - They are “channels of grace” thru which we receive salvation from God’s righteous judgment against us as “sinful” - that is, as: guilty & damned. Reformed Churches - 1 (Baptism), or 2 (Baptism & Communion) -they “work” as outward signs of inward acts of God, - from outside & above us, as in Roman Catholic sacraments, but without the necessity for Church or priests. - note that the model for this is the Western rite of marriage, which is performed by the contractees – not as a participation in the sacramental reality that is the New Creation in Christ.
Built 532-537 AD Hagia Sophia – Constantinople (Istanbul) In the Eastern tradition, speech is action and action is liturgical action in synergy with God, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit. The common context of experience in the East is the liturgical context of the Divine Liturgy. “The Church” is the physical/spiritual new Creation - a sacramental reality. 2. Eastern Christian Liturgical Context: Those things said & done there are said & done in the sacramental context that is Christ’s life. The church was designed “from within,” by the doing of the Divine Liturgy – it’s “form follows its function.”
80 priests, 150 deacons, 40 deaconesses, 60 subdeacons, 160 readers, 25 chanters 201.5’ – floor to dome
Sacramental iconography is more than religious art, as in the Italian Renaissance icons are a sacramental presence within the physical & liturgical Context
Creation itself - was intended to be a sacrament of Communion with God thru our human action. Christ transformed death, including the little deaths & resurrections of Baptism, Confession, & Communion - in each sacramental act we share God’s own divine life - they integrate life into this context - they do not stand separate & legal as imposed meanings by authority. He made this world able to fulfill its capacity to be a sacrament of return and oneness with Him. Since we are able to co-operate with God (synergy), we can begin living a life divinized, in Christ. Doing this is the purpose of life.