Being Ukrainian Orthodox, we follow the Old Calendar and today is the Nativity of our Lord. Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
The Star stands over the place of Jesus’ birth. It symbolizes the heavens and the Trinity. This is the Star which shone so brightly in the sky, brighter than any other, so bright that it led the Wise Men to the child King.
To the left of the Star are angles. These are the angels who proclaimed the Both of Christ to the shepherds. Continuing counter-clockwise, we see the Wise Men. These Wise Men listened to the angels and sought out the child Jesus. They brought Him gifts of frankincense, myhrr and gold.
Joseph was a widower and is seen in the Icon as an older man. He struggles, as many men would, about the Nature of his Betrothed’s child. He loves Mary but they have not yet had marital relations so he knows the child cannot biologically be his. His soul struggles and questions. Satan – disguised here as an old man – instigates his doubt. Joseph however overcomes his struggle and temptation with doubt through prayer.
Christ actually is shown twice in this Icon. In the bottom right the Child Jesus is shown receiving His first bath. The small tree reminds us of Christ’s ancestry. He can trace his roots back to Jesse. Hence this little tree is called the Jesse Tree.
On the right side and top corner, an angel is shown speaking to shepherds. The animals are shown frozen, as if time stood still when Christ was born. These Jewish shepherds were among the first to worship Christ. They symbolize that Christ is in fact the Good Shepherd.
In the center of this Icon is of course Mary and the Infant Jesus. They are the center focus of the Nativity. In some Nativity Icons, Mary is faced so that she looks upon both Christ her Son and Joseph her husband. She prays for Joseph that he overcomes his temptations.
The Infant Jesus is wrapped in swaddling clothes, which not only is meant to depict His submission to our lowly human form, but also foreshadows His death and resurrection. At first glance it would appear He is lying in a crib. The manager represents the crib. He is seen lying on an altar. This symbolizes that He is the bread of life.
Wordless Wednesday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015