Make that two presences. Ever since I was little and first enthralled by the magic of winter, fresh snowfall and the Robin have been etched into my mind as classic icons of this season in Britain. You can imagine my simple sense of delight this morning when I took these photographs of a Robin as it was attracted to the fresh supply of nuts, seeds and sultanas which I had just put out in our garden for the birds. Here was a truly iconic combination just waiting to be appreciated.
The images simply and unmistakably say ‘British Wintertime’.
So if we ask the question, ‘what are the iconic images which unmistakably say authentic faith / authentic church’ , what might your answer be? Having followed the bible readings set for the Christmas Season it seems to me that the presence of the Holy Spirit is as fundamentally iconic as that of the Robin. From the first shimmerings of promise to Mary through to the Baptism of Jesus the narratives are as laden with the activity and presence of the Spirit of God as the skies over Barnetby continue to be laden with snow.
Such an iconic presence is apparent when people discover hope, belonging, meaning, purpose and direction. When they awaken to the fact that they are beloved of God and cherished, when dignity and self-respect are birthed in those least likely to expect them and when loving kindness and generosity well up, something iconic is in our midst. When structures of oppression and division are challenged and when the whole creation is appreciated as a precious gift to be conserved and tended well, an iconic presence is at work.
Christians are intended to be iconic too, each of us visible reminders of the deeply loving reality of divine presence. In these chilly and bitter times it is more than ever vital that it is this above all which the world associates with the followers of Jesus.