Christ Harrowing Hell

This is the first issue of In Communion with a color cover. Bright Week seems just the right moment to make this change. The cover icon — Christ harrowing hell — carries us into that crack in time between Christ’s death and resurrection. Christ is standing on the shattered doors of hell, a kingdom that had been ruled by the prince of darkness. His first action is to raise our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, from their tombs. Adam and Eve, whose unfortunate choices unleashed a tidal wave of disaster. Behind them are gathered David and Solomon, Moses, Daniel, Zechariah and John the Baptist. Beneath the gates of hell, Satan, warden of hell, is plummeting into an abyss of darkness amidst a blizzard of broken locks and useless keys.

It’s an image for the most radical reversal one can imagine. The undoing of death is the undoing of all that keeps us in a state of fear. After all, it’s death we spend our lives resisting and delaying. It’s fear of death that stands in the way of actually living. Dig away at other fears and we discover the dread of death. This icon reminds us that death doesn’t have the last word and that we need not live our lives entombed in fear. It’s also an icon of forgiveness. If Adam and Eve can be forgiven, who is beyond forgiveness?

There is a Paschal impulse behind the Orthodox Peace Fellowship. Our Christ-centered work is part of the struggle to overcome the rule of death in our lives.

To carry on our work we have two part-time staff members, myself and Sheri San Chico, plus a number of volunteers. Sheri and I are paid very little for our many hours of work, but OPF’s present income doesn’t justify more adequate payment.

More than ever we need the help of our members and friends to keep OPF going.

If you are one of those who makes regular donations, thank you! You have been a God-send! If you aren’t, please consider becoming part of that community of committed donors.

If you can’t manage a monthly or quarterly donation but can make an occasional special donation, please do so. Thank you!

We hope our supporters will make at least one donation annually, but without those who give more than once a year, and give more than the minimum, we would have to call it a day.

In Christ’s peace,

Jim Forest, OPF co-secretary

Bright Week 2006

Note: The icon is on the ceiling of the sanctuary of a chapel in the Church of the Savior at Chora, Istanbul, Turkey.