Third Sunday After Epiphany

Untitled by Michelle L Hofer – mixed media on paper, 8 x 10 inches, 2018

January 23, 2022 Lectionary Texts – Year C
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
Psalm 19
I Corinthians 12:12-31a
Luke 4:14-21

View lectionary

The hands and hand gestures found in Christian icon art fascinate me. The form is consistently long and slender. There is a gentle quality to every gesture. The hands are welcoming and never forceful, confident and open. Even if the subject holds a spear or sword, the grip is easy. Hands do not differ according to gender of the subject — male, female and non-gender (angel) hands all appear universally the same.

Hand gestures in icon art originate out of the Greco-Roman oration tradition — a tradition familiar to the early Christians. Certain hand gestures have been assigned to specific icon subjects such as Christ raising two fingers (indicating an authority to speak). Mary is portrayed with both hands raised and open in a gesture of prayer.

The painting I bring you today features the open palm gesture indicating trust, sincerity and the absence of evil. This gesture is most often reserved for saint portraits. I have also seen this gesture demonstrated by Christ when healing someone. The stippling work is my way of showing Divine magic and energy.

I felt this image made for a nice symbolic connection to the texts this week… Ezra reading to the people and sending them home to celebrate…the Psalmist extolling the wisdom of Divine Law…Paul communicating the importance of each part within the body… and Christ proclaiming his mission in the world

  • What do you see?
  • What do you feel when looking at this image?
  • What facets or characteristics of God come to mind with this image?
  • Does this image bring to you a new understanding or perspective to something within the lectionary texts?

Go back to your homes, and prepare a feast. Bring out the best food and drink you have, and welcome all to your table, especially those who have nothing. This day is special. It is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve over your past mistakes. Let the Eternal’s own joy be your protection! — Nehemiah 8:10

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