Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Embrace of the Divine

In especially Eastern Christian art, you regularly see holy figures making a sign with their right hand: two fingers standing together, thumb and ring finger touching with the pinkie nearby. This gesture spells out a particular short-hand for the name of Christ, but it also symbolizes the two natures of Christ, and the three Members of the Trinity, respectively. 

More than merely a stuffy declaration of dull dogma, or a fetish for symbolism, this represents a quiet, simple, and yet poignant statement of the core of the Christian message. The two doctrines expounded in this gesture are not selected at random. The disputes over these two doctrines (the Trinity and the incarnation) defined the early Church and her identity, and the Orthodox Church especially has always placed great significance in these doctrines and expounding and symbolizing them abundantly. Yet, I do not believe it is incidental that these two doctrines are declared together in this one gesture. Together they make for a remarkably profound and holistic declaration: The God who is eternally embracing, accepting, and communing with Himself in perfect fellowship, has come and opened His fellowship to His creation. He humbly comes to our world - to you and me! - in embrace, acceptance, and communion in the form of the incarnation: when the fullness of His 'hypostatic union' came and united to our brokenness.

The One in eternal self-embrace has come to embrace this physical world and fill it with the glory of His presence.

At the end of all things, the Lord shall descend and 'God's dwelling shall be with humanity.' We shall live in communion and harmony with our God. The God of fellowship shall fellowship with us, eternally. We shall be caught up in the symphonic embrace of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This small gesture represents the most tremendous and profound of truths, and its quiet declaration is scattered throughout museums, churches, art textbooks, and the annals of history. The world cannot escape from the preaching of these dead saints, who tell us with their hands about the embracing Three-in-One who has come to embrace us.