The Church’s Use of Art & Symbols

Many people of our congregation either don’t know, have forgotten, have wondered about or have never thought about the symbols present in our church and their meanings.  Here at Trinity we have a number of excellent furnishings and appointments to help portray the faith and also art and symbols that are useful in expressing the Christian truths we hold dear.

The Baptismal Font is centrally located at the entrance to the Nave, where its placement symbolizes your baptismal entrance into Christ’s Church (Romans 6).  The artwork on the Font  depicts a shell with three drops of water which symbolizes the Triune name of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit into which you are baptized.

The Altar is prominently placed in the center of the Chancel so all eyes are drawn to the central focus and climax of the Divine Service - the place where the body and blood of Jesus comes to us and we receive their benefits.  The Altar symbolizes the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all for the sins of the world and now offers us his body and blood (Hebrews 10:10).  The altar is covered with a Fair Linen which symbolizes the empty burial cloth of Jesus.

The Pulpit - From the pulpit the living Word of Christ still speaks to His people through the called pastors.  The artwork on our pulpit is the Chi Rho (first two letters of Christ in Greek) and the Alpha and Omega which are used to indicate that God in Christ is the Beginning and the End, Creator and Perfecter of our faith and that faith comes from hearing the message of Jesus Christ  (Rom. 10:17).

The Lectern is the place where the Word of God is read and it is for that reason that the shield with VDMA is an ideal symbol as the letters surrounding the cross stand for Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum, the “Word of the Lord Endures Forever” (1 Peter 1:23-25).  These words were the official motto of the Lutheran Reformation, and this symbol became the first official symbol of the Reformation and thus are very fitting for a Lutheran church to tie us to our historical roots.

The Crucifix is the chief symbol of the Christian faith and is prominently displayed to proclaim Him as our Savior who died for our sins.  “We preach Christ crucified...the power of God and the wisdom of God. ”  (I Corinthians 1:23-24)

The Candles all generally point to Jesus Christ who proclaimed, “I am the Light of the world.” (John 8:12)

  • The Eucharistic Candles - are the two candles on the altar that are lit during worship
    services in which we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. These candles represent the two natures in Christ, that He is both God (“conceived by the Holy Spirit”) and man (“born of the virgin Mary”). When no candelabra are present, as in our Chapel, the two candles are called Altar Lights and are lit any time there is a service in the Chapel.
  • The Candelabraare the seven candles on each side of the Altar and are symbolic of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Eternal Flame/Sanctuary Lightrepresents the never-ending presence of God with his people (Exodus 27:20).
  • The Paschal Candleis the single candle near the Baptismal Font.  This Candle represents the presence of the Risen Christ. It is lit on the Sundays of Easter, until Ascension Day.  It is also lit for the worship service during which a baptism takes place, because when a person is baptized she/he “puts on Christ.”  It is also lit at other services when baptism is especially remembered such as a funeral.  (Romans 6).

I hope that this brief explanation of our church's liturgical furnishings and appointments  give you a greater appreciation for what Trinity has been blessed with in her artwork and symbols.  In a later writing I will cover the artwork of our beautiful stained glass windows.

~ Pr. Christensen