Standing in a beautiful church is to see the cosmos—seen and unseen, measured and unmeasurable—ordered towards God as revealed in Jesus Christ. We stand in this revelation of the perfect universe as a people whose only response can be to join the worship happening at every hour, in every place, by every created thing. Every element of such a church—its icons, music, and theatre—compels us to join in praising and petitioning the God who is all Love, all Power, and all Glory.
From the earliest Christians painting images in the graveyard catacombs, the expression of glory in the Byzantine, the vision of the otherworldly in the Romanesque, and the awe of the Gotholic, church architecture has a long, rich history of developing a building of worship in different places and cultures.
The Icons at Home project seeks to embody the same intentionality in our homes—given a vision and inspiration in our homes and daily life.
A Vision of Christian Life in the Home
If good churches are oriented toward the worship of God, families blessed by participation in that worship should witness the life inspired by that perspective in their homes. Unlike a church, where the orientation is the worship of God, a home is about our life in Christ, revealed in the daily aspects of everyday life. In our homes we cook, eat, wash, read, and sleep—and such mundane tasks have been a path to deification for many saints. In considering such holy persons and praying with them, even the most everyday activities can be blessed.
Home is also where we ideally experience the roles by which God has made himself known—that of father, mother, child, brother and sister, and even husband and wife. The different forms of love expressed and experienced through our family relationships ranging from the profound comfort embodied between siblings to God’s mysterious love for each of us, exemplified in the passion between husband and wife. In the home, a kiss on the cheek, the forehead, or the lips, can find an echo of its everlasting fulfilment in an icon.
Lastly, our homes are the buildings where we consider our daily actions through the perspective of eternity and our participation in the Kingdom of God. Each window and doorway, as well as those places in which we hang our coats and store our work tools, can inspire us to witness Jesus Christ in everything we do. There is an opportunity for our home to be a repository of saintly examples of the deliberate duty our faith requires and the hope we have of experiencing God and his angels in the unexpected.
A Holy Dining Room
From time immemorial, where we eat as a family has been an essential feature of any home. Around our table, we thank God for the food provided, practice our manners, learn to share and put others before our desires, catch up on the day’s events and laugh at family stories. If the church is the experience of faith in a macrocosm, I sometimes wonder if the dining room table is its vision in a microcosm.
A host of Christian stories and examples surrounds us in the dining room. Eating the meal invites us to witness Christ among us, as the early disciples experienced it on the road to Emmaus. In offering hospitality, we find both a source of blessing for the family and even a profound revelation of the trinitarian nature of God as we see the three angels served by Abraham and Sarah. Of course, the most obvious example is Christ’s last supper, in which eating our daily bread foreshadows the Eucharist.
My family and I recently moved to the Canadian province of Alberta and into a small home outside the city of Red Deer. The original house was built in 1904 and has undergone many changes and renovations since its construction. Currently, it finds itself in a state of some disrepair, being beside the railway in an industrial area of town.
Being uprooted from the village of Conestoga, where all the children were born and in a place that gave so much to the studio’s formation has presented some challenges. However, over the past six months, we’ve watched each challenge become an opportunity and a blessing to us. Now, as the studio finally settles into its new digs, the grace to resurrect the Icons at Home project has presented itself as work begins to make our new house our home.
The icons and articles that come out of this project are specific to that work. Each seeks to embody the burgeoning idea that our homes have a unique opportunity to create a holy space—like a church but distinct in its vision—in which our daily lives are inspired by the saints, encouraged in performing our duties, and expectant of meeting God.
—Symeon, winter 2023
*** Photos and blog posts of the work underway will appear here as the project takes form ***