Jesus, Lord of the Dance, leads our ninety saints, four animals, and all humanity in a great dance. He’s vested in the street attire of an Ethiopian Orthodox priest, a close parallel to teacher’s garb in the first century Mediterranean world and he wields his cross to lead the dancers, making the sign of suffering and shame into humanity’s invitation to joy.
We follow all of the saints and Jesus as he dances with his cross reminding us of this passage from Hebrews, “Looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy which was set before him, endured the cross, disregarding its shame.”
The Jesus icon is 13’ feet tall. Early in the process of creating the great icon iconographer Mark Dukes made a charcoal drawing on paper to fill the space. He knew that the years’ work he’d do painting the saints would ready him to paint a Christ that he hadn’t yet fully imagined. Though we loved the charcoal drawing, Jesus’ painted icon dances much more boldly and freely than the drawing it replaced.