Posts Tagged ‘icons’

“One for Sorrow”… Reflections on Superstition

July 6, 2019

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I’m not sure about other nations as regards this, but the Irish, I feel, are generally a very superstitious nation. I remember a Christian telling me that she had once struggled with that little rhythm about Magpies… “One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl – and four for a boy…” To see one magpie, for her, was something which had the potential to ruin her complete day!

Car registrations here have even been dictated by superstition, with number “13” being viewed as a number which brings “bad luck.” In the Republic of Ireland the registration starts with a number, then the first (and sometimes last) letters of the county where the car was registered and finally the year. All was fine with this new registration system until we reached the year “2013”… In 2012 a Meath car could have a registration of “12MH….” But once the year 2013 arrived, the numbers were swiftly changed to “131” or “132.” From that moment on, number “1” was added to each forthcoming year and if the car was registered in the second half of the year a “2” was added. It is incredible, to say the least, that an entire car registration system in a country has been dictated by superstition, as it was felt that no one would buy a “2013” car!

The list of superstitions is endless really… from “Friday 13th” to breaking mirrors and “7 years bad luck,” to a “lucky rabbit’s foot” to the belief that “bad luck comes in threes.” A black cat crossing the road in front of you is supposed to be “lucky,” but if that cat changes its mind and decides to walk back again, that is most “unlucky.” It is usually wiser not to walk under a ladder (for obvious reasons) but not to do so because of superstition is so wrong.

The Greeks, like the Irish, often have many religious icons dangling around in their cars – something which is supposed to give an aura of “protection” for the driver and his passengers. I recall being a passenger in a Greek taxi which flew around “hairpin” bends at a speed which made me feel sick as I looked down on the occasional wreck of an old car which had gone over the cliffs. Those beads and icons dangling from the mirror did nothing to allay my fears… No, I prayed to my living God and Saviour for protection.

Spiritually speaking, I have seen people in chains of anxiety because of superstition; Roman Catholicism, I believe, breeds superstition, blending as it does with whatever Pagan system was prevalent in the particular part of the world where it unfortunately came to have a presence.

The phenomenon of “moving statues” has attracted huge numbers of people to a certain area of Ireland over the years and throughout the world Catholicism has benefited financially from “apparitions of the Virgin Mary” supposedly appearing here and there.

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious…” (Acts 17v22) Today, as in Paul’s day, many worship “they know not what.”

And today, as in Paul’s day, the risen Saviour wants to free mankind from the shackles of superstitious thought which can often dictate the very nature of their daily lives.

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17v30&31)

The devil is indeed a “hard taskmaster,” seeking to fill his subjects with superstition, worry and obsessive compulsive disorders relating to old traditional beliefs.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8v36)

Oh the freedom, liberty and joy that we can find in Him as Lord and Saviour!

Walking Uphill to the Traditional Greek Village of Kéfalos

August 1, 2012

So enthusiastic was I about being in the sun that I made the mistake of getting too sunburned on our first days in Kos! Soon I felt much better but we still decided not to go to the beach and so on the third day, armed with plenty of water, we walked steadily uphill towards the large medieval village of Kéfalos. I discovered that the latter was actually the first capital of Kos, named Astypalaia. After an earthquake destroyed the town in 412BC, it was abandoned and Kos town (today’s capital) was founded by the survivors.

Along the dusty road we were passed by all sorts of transport, including motorbikes and those beach quads which people seem to hire here. I had purchased a straw hat enroute, in a little shop where an elderly lady, sitting at the door and dressed all in black accepted one of my John 3v16 Greek bookmarks: “Οὕτω γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ’ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.”

She, of all the people we had ever met made an impression on me; I was very touched by how grateful and enthusiastic she was about it. She did not speak English at all but a younger man behind the counter looked at the bookmark and said: “You are Christian?” This gave us an opportunity to talk to him and somehow I felt more than the warmth of the sun as we left that shop.

Soon we were walking along a more rural area where the parched scenery was relieved only by the beauty of vibrant pink bougainvillea, growing wild by the roadside. After a while I began to feel quite ill in the heat of the day and I was just praying for some shelter from the sun when we spotted it… the little Greek Orthodox Church at the top of some steps. It was worth the climb to be able to find an open door to a cool place with a seat, where we drank most of our remaining water. As we sat there in that little church, I took in our silent surroundings… Greek icons, revered here as if they were the very saints themselves. Coincidentally my daily reading was in Jeremiah at the time: “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.” (Jeremiah 7v18) Although Orthodoxy denies that the icons themselves are objects of worship, there is evidence that the regard in which they are held is certainly tantamount to worship.

Apart from small Muslim and Jewish minorities in Greece, as well as very tiny numbers who follow other sects and cults, most of the population adhere to the Greek Orthodox Church. While not accepting the pope of Rome as the spokesman for Christianity, the Greek Orthodox clergy also oppose the Reformation and Evangelical Christianity. It is sad that much of the Greek population today have still never been presented with the true gospel of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

After exploring the ruined medieval castle in Kefalos with its few remaining walls overlooking the beauty of the azure sea below, we strolled into the sleepy village, largely untouched by time.

How good it was to have had the opportunity to leave the little bookmarks in the Greek Orthodox Churches that we visited and in Kéfalos and other villages; yet I feel in my heart that this region is so spiritually needy. I love the people of Greece and its island and wish that they could be reached with tracts in their own language that they could read and absorb. Most of all, I pray that precious souls would come to a knowledge of sins forgiven and a firm assurance of knowing my Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour.