Easter Day: Rejoice!
Easter Day Icons – Chairete (‘be full of joy’)
The icon on the front easel relates to Matthew 28: 8 – 10. “Mary and Mary Magdalene left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy. … Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ (Chairete), and they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him.” “Chairete” is a term of salutation. It is linked to the verb “Chairo” meaning “Rejoice” or “Be full of joy”.
The inscription at the top of the original of this icon reads: “Christ, raised from the dead appears to the Holy Women,” and below, the women are named as “Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus.” The original is a Russian manuscript icon, painted around 1300. It was placed at the beginning of a collection of Psalms known as the Khludov Psalter. The main features are the enormous figure of Christ compared with the women, and the way the symbols of new life, the trees, seem to grow out of the women.
On the easel on the west side of the church is a Resurrection icon (Anastasis). In this case, the original is a crusader icon, which means it displays Venetian influences. Venice captured Constantinople during the 4th Crusade in 1204 and ruled there until 1261. The Venetian rulers influenced the art work. Hence the bold reds, the lavish clothes and cross, and the western phylactery on Aaron. The risen Christ is lifting Adam and Eve from their graves as he tramples on the gates of Hell. Of the many other features in this very rich icon, note how the colour deepens in the almond shaped Mandorla that surrounds Jesus. As a believer journeys ever deeper into the presence of God, the light becomes dimmer, not brighter, as if entering a cloud, the cloud of the presence in the Old Testament and the cloud of unknowing in medieval spirituality.
You greet us with great joy, risen Lord Jesus, and we respond with ‘Hallelujah!”
“Your is the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the victory you o’er dear have won.”
Raise us to new life with you, and with all the saints and martyrs.
Take us with you on the journey into the presence of the Father.
“The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come’,
And let everyone who hears say ‘Come’,
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes, take the water of life as a gift. ….
Amen. Come Lord Jesus.