Icon writing is a form of prayer that visually invites a greater spiritual meaning into its subject.
Christians have different views about icons. We respect the traditions of icon writing, but we were not raised with icons in our worship. We grew up in worship services that honored imagery in worship, but in things like doves printed on the bulletin or a field of grain waiving behind the worship lyrics in the PowerPoint. We didn’t discover icon writing until we began to embrace an Ancient-Future view of worship. It was there that we discovered the joy of remembering God’s work through people and places.
At Repentant Pilgrim, our icons are a visual reminder of the God’s work in times past, present, and future. They remind us to see God’s hand in not only in the saints who have come before us, but to see God’s hand in our own family, community, and friends. They represent visually things that are very real spiritually. I am often asked, why icons don’t “look real.” Icons are more real than a photograph because they reflect more than mere light.
Icons are reflections, like windows that look backward and forward at the same time. These reflections do not look like mirror images, because they are designed to simultaneously reflect both the spiritual and the physical word. They look forward to what God has promised and they look back to what God has accomplished. All the while the subject matter may be a plain or simple thing like a person, a natural scene, or a building. They are a window to remember the true spiritual state of life today, the lives of believers who have come before us, and the moments when God acted in a significant way towards humanity. Icons are an invitation to worship God in the simple things of life.
Some icons are grand and they celebrate the work of God in Christ, while others celebrate the powerful work of the prophets and apostles– those icons are often confused as being objects of worship; but we are not worshiping Paul, we are worshiping the personality of God demonstrated in His works in and through the Apostle Paul. We are remembering how God blessed and was blessed by the saint.
We encourage you to share this view by commissioning an icon for your life. When you commission an icon, you are pointing to simple things in your life that you know reflect deep spiritual reality. It could be your spouse, a family member who lead you spiritually, a place of spiritual significance to you, a life event where you experienced God’s hand, a missionary who you support.
Really, it can be just about anything that you pray for because an icon is a physical reminder of prayer and a reminder to pray. We have done commissions about missionaries, pastors, family members, and mentors. As well as life events like: baptism, engagement photos, weddings, anniversaries, loss of a loved one, or a biography we are currently reading. We also have done commissions that centered on locations like: the neighborhood around your house, your local city park, images of the Holy Land, places of spiritual significance (thin spaces), and even your own home.
A commissioned icon is not just a paintings of the thing. We will work with you to understand how God was at work in that situation and create a religious icon in the tradition of your choice to represent the sacredness of God’s work in your life. The most important aspect of icon writing is prayer. We will pray together with you regarding this commission and that prayer will be reflected in the icon. Learn more about commissioned work here.
Whether you commission an icon, purchase an icon, or buy anything from our site, we would love to get connected. Join the conversation. We are not experts, we are learners and we love being associated with those who follow passionately after God.
Sonja Flood: Icon Writer
Sonja spends her days quietly in prayer and painting. Sometimes using traditional methods, sometimes creating something new, Sonja is always looking for ways to celebrate God’s work throughout history. Sonja lives with her family in Fair Oaks, California. She is pictured here with husband Josh, who is a member of the Ancient-Future Faith Network.
Please contact her directly if you have any questions.