by An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec) - Church Schools
To explore the different meanings and significance of icons.
Preparation and materials
- The word 'icon' is widely used for celebrities and so on, but comes from the Greek eikon, meaning 'image', and is more properly used to refer to sacred images found in Greek Orthodox churches.
- An image or a copy of an icon could be used as a focus during the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly. One clearly showing a single figure, such as Jesus or Mary, would be the most suitable. Using the search term 'orthodox icon' on the Internet should produce a list of several sites with a variety of downloadable images of icons (check copyright). Alternatively, copies of icons are available from Articles of Faith at: www.articlesoffaith.co.uk and calendars showing icons can be purchased from Christian bookshops or cathedral shops.
- You will need a candle (and don’t forget the matches) for the Time for reflection part of the assembly.
- Playing music throughout the assembly will create atmosphere. Simply vary the volume for the spoken and quiet sections. Try 'Ikon of Light' by John Taverner.
- Play the music as the children come in, then reduce the volume when you are ready to start.
We all have our favourite pop or football icons. The term ‘icon’ is also used in computer technology – we click on an icon on a computer screen to give us information or lead us through to a computer game and so on.
Increase the volume of the music and listen to it for approximately one minute.
- An iconographer creates an icon, not as a painting, but as an act of meditation. He or she describes this work as a process of transforming everyday materials into sacred ones; earthly things are used to paint a heavenly subject. Icons usually depict Jesus, Mary, the saints or an event in the Bible.
Show the icon or images you have gathered. Play music louder, then reduce the volume again, as before.
- For believers, an icon enables the viewer to communicate with God via the person or people depicted in the image. Icons are treasured by those fortunate enough to own them. In churches and homes, they are adored and venerated, they are taken on pilgrimages or lovingly paraded around during great Church events. Many icons have been damaged by the wear and tear of daily use. They are loved rather than neglected – literally loved to bits!
Time for reflection
Light candle and play the music throughout.
As you look at the icon and the flame of the candle, be very still. Listen to the words of this prayer.
Help me to let go of my problems and fix my mind on you.
Continue to play the music for another minute or so.
'Ikon of Light' by John Taverner