Our Precious Cornerstone

Alabaster, Onyx, and Marble Mandylion (Towel) Iconostasis Mosaic – St. Sophia Orthodox Church, Canada

Jesus Christ is our precious and chief cornerstone…   in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,  in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:19-22

God is Beautiful, and His House reflects this Beauty as a sacramental image of the Heavenly Jerusalem here on Earth… Our Door to Paradise.

Beautifying the House of God is pleasing to Him. Traditional stylized toweling has a very long history in church iconography. Frescoed borders of stylized fabric of “towels, or mandylion” represent the original linens from Old Testament times used within the original Portable Tabernacle.

Decorative wall mandylion run along the walls of many Orthodox churches, and are covered with adorning emblems. These also recall the Scriptural theme of linen napkins and towels as cited in the New Testament. And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,  so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left… ~ Acts 19:11-12.

Furthermore, Holy Tradition relates the miraculous Holy Image Not Made by Hands by the transference of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ‘s Face, onto a linen towel.

A Living Stone and a Holy People. So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.  Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” ~  1 Peter 2:1-6

Having made us in His own image, God has given us an indelible love for beauty. We worship Him with body and soul, using all the beauty of His creation to move us to prayer and worship – through icons, beautiful ancient singing, sweet-smelling incense, and majestic holy services.

Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation… ~ Isaiah 28:16

Jesus Christ is our Precious Cornerstone.

May our hearts build on God’s Beauty and Wisdom to become proper temples and dwelling places for the Holy Spirit.

Glory to God for all things!

Our Little Nativity Crèche

Published in Home For the Holidays issuu magazine November 25, 2022 (page 16)

Treasures of Christmases Past

Opening boxes of Christmas ornaments is like greeting old friends again. They’re all special, inspiring, and priceless.

Included in our treasure troves are two tattered cardboard circles, with glittery bits of Christmas cards glued to the greasy back of a pizza box. In my mind’s eye I see our toddlers deep in concentration, their puckered little mouths moving rhythmically to each opening and closing of the blunt scissors… a testament to earlier times when sparse finances and homemade adornments were inspired through necessity.

A Queen’s Guard Soldier lies cupped in the palm of my hand. Although his paint is faded, he stands ever at attention as a wooden clothes peg. Our daughter made him in kindergarten, and the threaded loop through his skewed black pom pom hat disintegrated ages ago. He will be stationed on a tree branch, propped up beside the inevitable paper plate sprinkled with dried macaroni, and spray painted gold.

My mom’s embroidered blue bird roosts next to the dainty satin butterfly from my mother-in-law.

Meanwhile, the Three Wise Men bauble our 7 year old hand-sewed himself, is whimsically suspended near a flock of his origami pterodactyls.

At the top of the tree, reposing beneath a chipped Christmas Star is the large, red, paper angel-card my husband made for me the first year we dated. Although the angel wings have long since curled up at the edges, the sparkly Merry Christmas card greeting remains divinely intact.

Of course we own a few store bought decorations. One of which was a gift, a little Christmas Crèche. Although it wasn’t something we’d have bought for ourselves, this sweet little manger scene with animals quickly joined the cherished seasonal entourage.

In keeping with the situation, the Crèche is reverently displayed on top of our piano… despite the fact that one of the sheep’s plastic legs was completely gnawed off by our teething son (who, coincidentally, later became vegan).

Decades later, the precious little lamb continues to defy the law of physics and nobly stands guarding the manger crib, along with the pristine ox, and donkey.

To me, he’s much more than a simple 3-legged plastic lamb.

He’s an unsung model of hope and perseverance in adversity.

God bless us, everyone!

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