Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bearing in Mind the Trinity

Last week our class had a discussion on some readings about the Orthodox view of the Trinity. Our reflections were from two chapters of the book The Orthodox Way one being Signposts on the Way, and the other God as Trinity. In discussion and study of the Trinity we focused on two icons. The one that I studied was an icon painted in 1410 by Andrei Rublev in Moscow Russia. The painting focuses on his interpretation of the story where three strangers visit Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18. Some have interpreted the three strangers as God attended by two angels while others including Andrei Rublev interpret the three as the Holy Trinity. In his icon
The first angel represents God the Father. God the Father is first wearing a blue garment that represents God’s divine nature while the purple represents God’s unfathomable nature and royalty. Behind God is the house of Abraham, which symbolizes God’s master plan for creation as well aa God’s representation of being head of the house.
The second angel represents God the Son his red garment represents his incarnation while the blue garments represents his divinity. The tree found behind the head of God the Son symbolizes the cross and the tree of life and the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.
The third angel represents God the Holy Spirit. The light blue represents heaven while the green represents earth. Together they signify the life-giving force of the Holy Spirit, which animates that everything exists. Behind the head of God the Holy Spirit is a mountain, which represents elevation and purity.
All three are holding a staff, which too symbolizes their divine power also represented by the gold halos surrounding their heads.
On the Table is the chalice, which represents Christ sacrifice for us and the Eucharist.
Unlike other paintings of the Trinity with a closed circle painted around the Trinity this painting has God the Son and God the Holy Spirit focusing their eyes towards God the father, while God the father is returning them a blessing with his hands which incorporates a continuous movement and circle encompassing all three at equal levels. There is also an openness between them that invites the viewer of the icon into a relationship with the Trinity.
Learning more about the significance of icons in the Orthodox Church has expanded our continued understanding of the Orthodox way as well as allowed for a deeper perspective of the Trinity. I think that each of us has a better understanding of icons and more enlightenment towards their worth.

Elisabeth Heffner

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