Icons of Fellowship



As I think over this trip, what surfaces most in my mind are the interactions I had with people.  The beginning of this trip proved a rocky one, as I’d just left all my close college friends a week before, and was suddenly plunged into a situation with new people who didn’t know me.  For the first time in four years, I felt really alone. Robbed of the rich friendships I’d built up over my school career, there was a quiet sullen part of me that wanted to give up, check out, and pull back into myself, because how could I invest myself in three week friends, when I’d just been ripped from people I loved so much?

Thankfully though, I didn’t give up at the start.  It took effort for me to try to get to know people, continue to push myself to spark up conversations, ask people to do things, and spend more time with others than I was used to.  Instead of thinking about myself and who I could find to support me, I found myself exchanging ideas with other people and comparing opinions, whether the conversations were casual ones about movie preferences, or in-depth ones about literature theories.  Eventually, I fell into a group of friends I felt comfortable and appreciated in, and, even more, had broadened my understanding of fellowship.

Fellowship was something I used to understand in terms of close, deep friendships between a small group of people who are generally likeminded and similar.  But the word “fellow” in all other contexts just refers to people who share some quality­ or aspect, not everything about them.  I don’t have to share everything with a person to have fellowship with them; we need only share one trait for us to be in fellowship.  Indeed, I did share a trait with the rest of my Greece group: we all, as Messiah College students, counted ourselves as Christians.  But there’s something even larger than that which connected not only the people in our group, or in the Church, but in all of Greece, and all the world.  I met many people on this trip, whether traveling from Messiah, or living in Greece, and though they all varied in personality and experience, I can say truly that I am not worth more than any of them.  They all lead important lives full of complexity and emotion, and all share the innate capacity to know and become more like God.

As I considered ho people all share an inborn worth and importance afforded to them by God, who paints us in his own image, I thought about how the iconographers painted their people in images which would reveal God.  Just as icons are meant to draw our eyes to God, to reveal the idea of Jesus to those who couldn’t read the Bible, so we are meant be a symbol of grace and love for those who cannot read Jesus anywhere else in our culture.  Like the icons, we are not meant to be praised ourselves, but through our humble understanding that everyone deserves salvation as much as we do, that our whole world is bound by a fellowship of worth, live in a way that makes us an image of God for others.