Today is the first Sunday of Great Lent, known as the Sunday of Orthodoxy. This Sunday is a very important reminder of the centrality of Christ in the Orthodox Church. This is a very significant Feast in which we Orthodox Christians reaffirm our confession of faith, in the words of the Synadikon of the Vespers of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. It is a day at the beginning of Great Lent, when we lift up Christ in both praise and glorification. It is a Feast in which we are entreated and called upon to honor Christ.
The question posed to us on this day is how can we personally honor Christ in our lives and, better yet, how can a Christian family honor Christ. Besides the spiritual aspect of this Feast, there is also a historical aspect of this day in the life of the Orthodox Church, for this day marks the restoration of Holy Icons to the Church, which is an important way of living and expressing the Christian faith in our worship.
Icons remind us of how real our salvation is! The living Christ, our Risen Lord, is the same Jesus of Nazareth who took on flesh and blood, walked upon the earth and was incarnate in order to lead us, His creation, to the Kingdom.
Icons also remind us that we all belong to one family of God. You see, the story of the Gospels and the story of the Church is the story of Almighty God working through His people, us, for grace, forgiveness, truth, love and salvation. This is the story of faith amidst all the trials and sufferings in this world. God is working in us, in this land, in this parish and in the midst of every Christian family. God is working in our midst gathering us, His people, into the Kingdom.
The reality of our salvation and the fact that we belong to one family of God is proclaimed in this most poignant confession of faith, “As the prophets beheld, as the Apostle have taught, as the Church has received, as the teachers have decreed, Thus we confess, declare and proclaim Christ our true God and honor His saints in words, writings, thoughts, sacrifices, sanctuaries, and holy icons…. This is the faith of the Apostles! This is the Faith of the Fathers! This is the faith of the Orthodox! This is the faith that holds up the world!”