The Home Altar or Icon Corner is a venerable tradition in Christianity. The Eastern Orthodox claim it dates from the 1st century (which of their practices, doesn’t?). Personally, I find that having a space set aside for prayer and devotion to be useful for my own discipline; even so, getting myself to consistently use it is always an inner struggle. I’ve decided to show all of you this holy place to inspire and challenge you to make a space of your own in which to pray, and meditate on the mysteries and goodness of God.
Per tradition my Icon Corner faces East (toward Jerusalem). Here’s a list of items from top to bottom:
1. Icon of Resurrection of Christ, or the Harrowing of Hell (which is it? Nerd fight.) It is traditional to have an Icon of Christ above all others to signify Christ’s Lordship above all others. See picture below for detail.
2. An Icon of Christ Pantocrator, handwritten on Mt. Athos (according to the little plaque on the back), which came to me in a thrift store–those pagans had it lying in a junk bin with baseball gloves and crayons, priced at $.99!
3. A Crucifix from Kenya, which reminds me to pray for my sisters and brothers on the African continent. Besides an Icon of Christ, a crucifix is probably the next most essential item for an Icon Corner.
4. A palm leaf tied into a cross from Palm Sunday 2010 (tucked behind the crucifix). Hopefully, I’ll remember to burn it on Shrove Tuesday 2011.
5. An Icon of the Wedding at Cana, handwritten by an Orthodox iconographer from Minnesota, and given to my wife and I as a wedding present by the illustrious Dr. J. Davenport. See detail in picture below.
6. An Icon of Christ the Word creating the heavenly beings, and an Icon of Christ the Word creating the fish of the sea and the birds of the air. Along with the Resurrection Icon above, these were gifted to me by my brother-in-law and fellow contributor, Mr. Shawn Wamsley M.A., M.Div. (or do they go the other way around? Nerd fight.)
7. A votive candle and censer. Both were from thrift stores. I have not used the censer. I keep meaning to order some frankincense, but have yet to do so. A perpetually burning oil lamp is traditional in Eastern Orthodox Icon Corners. I’m a little nervous about starting a fire with one, personally.
8. I almost forgot the ordo kalendar on the wall level (more or less) with the crucifix, which shows all Episcopal fasts, feasts and saints days.
9. Back down on the blue table is my Book of Common Prayer/ Bible.
10. A set of Anglican prayer beads and a (barely visible) Jerusalem Cross pendant.
11. The table features a storage drawer for matches and stuff and shelf below filled with books of a (mostly) devotional or liturgical nature. It was also a gift from a dear friend who was getting rid of it.