Firstly, please pray for the citizens of Kenya who, following a neck-and-neck election, suffered rioting and, most tragically of all, the death of dozens who were seeking sanctuary in a church (Story HERE). We Orthodox have been blessed with much growth in the Church in Africa in general, and Kenya in particular. Lord, have mercy.
Secondly, Fr. Stephen has just posted an excellent article on Iconoclasm and its persistence in history HERE. Worth a read, given what I'm about to post, as Fr. Stephen's posts are always much more eloquent and thorough than my ramblings...
The theme that caught my eye in Fr. Stephen's post is the same one that's been floating around for several weeks now: the theme of man as an icon of God, as the incarnate image of God. I remember when, a year or so ago, I read yesterday's gospel passage and had an epiphany of sorts that, truth be told, was embarrassing, since it took my becoming Orthodox to "get it," while there are many, many other Christians out there (I'm sure) who got it right away. The passage reads thus:
Christ's rebuke places the emphasis on what it needs to be: man has lost the ability to lift himself, and all others, and all our lives up unto Christ our God, all the while thanking Him for a life in which he can know and be known by those who are outside of him, other than him, yet mystically be one with him. To take it that necessary step further, man no longer acknowledges that this life begins, abides, and finds its supreme end in mystical union with the One who is wholly Other, the One who is ever-apart yet breathtakingly imminent, the One who, in His artistry and craftmanship, bent over clay and breathed His icon into us. To borrow Chekov's phrase , the "blighted image" that we are now is an affront to that divine creativity and ends, of course, with everything from an impaling of the Firstfruit to a Tree to a burning of the brethren in Kenya.
Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him
in His words. When they had come, they said to Him, "Teacher, we know that
You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men,
but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or
not? Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?"
But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why do you test Me? Bring
Me a denarius that I may see it." So they brought it. And He said to them,
"Whose image and inscription is this?"
They said to Him, "Caesar's."
And Jesus answered and said to them,
"Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are
God's." And they marveled at Him. (St. Mark 12:13-17).