The preacher’s palette
A good rest this week, and the opportunity to read some of my Christmas books. One in particular has caught my imagination this time around – Neil Macgregor’s History of the world in 100 objects. The book does what it says on the tin, and takes the reader on a whistle-stop tour of civilizations through 100 objects drawn from the British Museum’s vast collections. One particular item which made me think was the item below – the Icon of the Triumph of Orthodoxy (c. 1350-1400 AD)
In his discussion of the piece Macgregor refers to a medieval text The Rules For the Icon Painter, from which there are selections below:
- Before starting the work, make the sign of the cross. Pray in silence & pardon your enemies.
- Work with care on every detail of the icon, as if you were working in front of the Lord himself.
- During work, pray in order to strengthen yourself physically and spiritually; avoid above all useless words & keep silence.
- When you have to choose a colour, stretch out your hands interiorly to the Lord and ask his counsel.
- Do not be jealous of your neighbour’s work; his success is your success too.
- When your work is finished, thank God that his mercy granted you the grace to paint holy images.
Just about the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me after a narrative sermon was a Romanian student who said “you didn’t tell the story – you painted it” It is highly unlikely that 2011 will ever see me painting an icon – but I hope to paint many sermons. Having a set of these rules with me as I do so may be no bad thing!