Icon - Christ Pantocrator (Sinai)

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According to St. Mark’s Gospel, chapter 4, the disciples, terrified by the furious storm that came upon their fishing boat, called out to Jesus for help. His powerful Word stilled the wind and the waves. The disciples asked themselves still terrified by their ordeal, “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey Him!”

The beautiful and powerful icon known throughout the Church’s history as “Pantocrator,” tells us exactly who He is. Pantocrator-Lord omnipotent, Almighty, All-Powerful. In the earliest days of the Christian worship, when Roman persecution swirled around the daily life of Orthodox Catholic Christians, the icon most often seen in the Catacombs where these Christians worshipped was that of the Good Shepherd, the Lord who comforts His flock. Later in as new threats came upon the maturing Church from outside the Empire-various invasions of barbarians threatening the very homeland Empire; Huns, Vandals, Goths, and then Muslims, Christians needed an emphasis on the Almighty God who sat enthroned as Emperor, Monarch and Ruler.

The word Pantocrator and the idea behind it appear in the book of Revelation. God speaks in Revelation 1:18, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Lord Who is, Who was and Who is to come, the “Pantocrator” (Almighty). The use of the multi-colored band that we usually see around the figure of the Pantocrator in the dome of Churches is based on Rev. 4:3 where the iris or rainbow is said to surround the throne of God. Normally the icon of Christ Pantocrator is the most remote of all the conventional poses. Christ is distant from us and sometimes His face is stern. Yet in other iconic depictions such as that of the Balkan Churches, we find the Pantocrator with dancing eyes. His face is sharp. His mouth tiny with the effort of suppressing a smile and his fingers thin and dancing where they hold the Book. The Gospel book in the icon is closed, but Jesus knows what is inside; the Good news of God’s love, of the destruction of sin and death and the enemies of God’s Church as well as life everlasting for the faithful who have endured and whose names are written in the Book of Life. So what a wonderful icon to have and hold in our homes. An image of the God who constantly looks upon us; sees us in our sorrow and strife and comforts us, upholds us and stills the wind and waves that afflict us as well.

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