Triumphant…The First Sunday of Lent

I had an idea for a wall hanging/quilt representing the Sundays of Lent.  Well, I’ve had many, many ideas related to that original idea.  I don’t think I’ve considered this many approaches to the same project in a long time.  After much ruminating and eliminating, I’ve settled on the version I want.  Maybe another version will come to life next year.  I’m still not sure of how all the weeks will come together into the actual wall hanging, but the first week’s element is done.

The first Sunday of Lent is the Sunday of Orthodoxy, also known as the Triumph of Orthodoxy.  On this day, in 843 A.D., icons were restored as right and holy parts of our Faith.  For a time previously, icons had been outlawed, and the resulting conflict resulted in the persecution and death of many Christians.  For the wall hanging element representing this Sunday, I chose to make an icon.

First, I had my dear husband cut a 5 1/2″ diameter circle out of 6mm thick craft foam.  I laid purple fabric right side down and placed the circle on top. 

I traced around the foam with a pencil, removed the foam, and cut around the shape of the circle, leaving about 2″ excess.  If you haven’t noticed, I am not a particularly neat crafter.  No perfectly straight edges around here!  Handmade doesn’t mean perfect.  It should mean doing my best, but I and the things I create are not perfect.  We’re both a little rough around the edges.

Then, I cut slits in the fabric about every 1/2″ all the way around the fabric.  I applied a thin, even coat of glue to the front of the foam and glued it to the center of the fabric.  I applied more glue to the outer rim of the foam and tightly folded the edges of the fabric down.  The slits help the fabric go around the curves.

Eventually, this will sit on top of other fabric, so I didn’t worry about covering up the ragged back.

Next, I crocheted some trim to border the circle.

I strung “E” beads in purple and silver on size 3 crochet thread.  The trick is that you have to string all the beads before you begin crocheting.  Having too many isn’t a problem.  You can get the excess off at the end.  Too few is bad, though!  I strung the colors in alternating groups of three, because…well, I’m Orthodox.  Is there a number other than three?  Perfect activity while waiting for my son at the doctor’s office!

I chained the length I wanted and then began to single crochet.  When I wanted a group of beads at the next stitch, I pushed three of them down, tight against the last stitch.

Then, I single crocheted in the next stitch, which pushed the beads to the other side and encased them within the stitches.  And so on, and so on down the line, until all the beads had been crocheted in.

Then, for the second row, which is a shell row, I did sc in the next two stitches, then 5 dc in the next stitch, repeating to the end of the row.  I glued the completed trim to the circle.  Next, I glued a paper icon to the center of the fabric circle.

Last, I added a border row of gold and pearl beads around the icon.

Every year, we attend the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers in our city.  Since we are blessed to have so many Orthodox parishes of varying ethnic backgrounds, it truly is a joining of the Church in unity.  And every year, I tear up and blubber like a baby as we proclaim:

This is the Faith of the Apostles!

This is the Faith of the Fathers!

This is the Faith of the Orthodox!

This is the Faith that established the universe!

I stand with my non-ethnic, convert family surrounded by Greek, Russian, Serbian, and many more.  I look at the dozens of priests lining the front of the church, flanked by dozens of children, all holding icons.  Together, with one voice, we proclaim our common Faith.  When we venerate icons, we do not worship the wood and paint.  Rather, we pass our love on to God.  If it’s an image of Jesus, His Mother, or any of the Saints, they’re all really images of Christ.  God, in His essence cannot be seen or shown in pictures.  But God deigned to become man as Jesus Christ.  To put on our flesh.  To bring that flesh to Him and restore us to what He created us to be.  Living icons of Him.

I look at all the faces around me, and for once, my sight is not clouded by the sin that usually makes me only see the faults in others.  Before me are images of salvation…the image of Christ in those around me.  And amazingly, inexplicably…the image of Christ in me.  God allows me to be with Him.  To worship Him in the Orthodox manner.  To consume the flaming fire of Himself through communion.  To be His icon.  I look at all the faces around me, those living on earth, and those living in Heaven, and I see Christ looking back at me in every one.  To know that Christ lives in me as well…I am overwhelmed.  I am so very, very grateful today for my faith, my Church, and the God Whose image is forever engraved on my heart.

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