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Christ Pantocrator

"God Is With Us" is a familiar hymn which we sing many times during the Feasts of the Nativity of Christ and the Theophany. The hymn, sung during the Compline Service, wants to impress upon us that indeed, God is with us. He has come to lead us from our selfishness to the warmth of the New Life in Him. God has come to lead us to Himself and share in His life.

This celebration of "God With Us" is not only expressed during the time of these two feasts. We are reminded of it all year long. As we enter our Church, we see the Icon of Christ Pantocrator in the dome or over the altar. This icon is the focal icon of the Church. In Christ, God comes to us and overshadows us with His abiding presence. He comes to us in Christ, Who is Emmanuel, which means "God with us." This icon is related to the icon of the Ascension from which it is taken. "This Jesus who has been taken from you will return, just as you saw Him go up into the heavens." (Acts 1: 11) This announces Christ's abiding presence, the One Who was with us in the flesh and Who is to come again.

The icon shows Christ as Pantocrator, the Ruler of All. To show this, the icon portrays Christ in solemn glory. He is still with us, blessing us with the right hand and holding the Gospel in the left. This is the Book by which we are judged. Both aspects are portrayed in tandem, as it were, for Christ is the "Righteous Judge" and the "Lover of Mankind,both at the same time. Icons of Christ are always full-faced to emphasize His presence to us. He is never far or distant This Ruler of All Who will come tc judge the living and the dead has entered our lives. He is the compassion ate Lord Who comes to take the sins of the world upon Himself.

This particular icon of Christ expresses that God is with us. It pro claims God's loving kindness toward us by showing us that He is giving us His blessing and forgiveness. Christ is not pictured with a crown or scepter as other kings. His power is not of this world. He came to be with us and to show us His loving kindness. He is with us throughout our lives. Our Church praises God Who is with us.

HYMN — Praise you the Lord, the Lord of heaven. Praise Him in the highest. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.