THE SYMBOLISM IN THE CHAPEL
The Chapel is meant to provide a place where one can quietly reflect, meditate, and pray. The PRAYING HANDS appearing in the Chancel wall before you are to give you that impression.
Furthermore, the Chapel may be used for private Baptism, small Weddings and Funerals, and any other occasion where a small group shall be gathered.
This Chapel has been designed to provide you with an atmosphere that will be conducive to reverence, worship and prayer. It has no outside windows except for the skylight. To compensate for the lack of windows, the panels and symbols in the walls give line, shape, and form to the walls. They add a touch of beauty. They also tell a story.
All the symbols in the Chapel, together, form a unit. They tell a story, the story that all things come from God and that, in Christ, the Savior, all things are to return to God: “From God, to God” is the general theme. It is taken from that verse in the New Testament that says of Jesus: “knowing He was come from God and that He was going to God”…
The story of Salvation begins with God. It begins in our Chapel with the Alpha found in the doorway. God, or Christ, is the Alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet, the beginning. All things come from Him.
The first stone symbol in the left wall is the Hebrew name for God: “Elohim.” It is found in the first verse of the Bible in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The second stone symbol shows the hand of God pointed downward—from His hand come all things, the heaven and the earth. The third symbol again shows God’s hand in process of forming Adam and Eve and thus creating the human race. All of us come from God.
The second panel of the wall symbols reminds us that as time passed, man fell into sin and became lost to God. But God promised in His mercy to save man from sin and Satan. He promised to raise up a scepter, even Jesus Christ our Lord, who was to be both Savior and King of Kings. As God dealt with His chosen people, He gave the law—the 10 Commandments.
As time passed, He sent His prophets to Israel. They spoke of the coming Redeemer. The next panel of symbols is on the prophets. It gives representative samplings of them. Do you recognize Elijah, who was taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire? Or, do you recognize Isaiah, whose lips were touched by coals of fire held by the angel with six wings? Or, do you recognize Micah whom the scribes quoted when the wise men came to Herod and asked, “Where is he that is born king of the Jews?” The last of the prophets was John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. He is represented in the darkened glass found in the doorway leading to the Sacristy.
Then Jesus. Jesus is the center of history. All things point to Him. He is symbolized in the front and center of our Chapel. The Cross above the Altar, the Cross with its Lamb, its Passion Flower, the Bursting Pomegranate, the HIS and the CHI RHO lettering, focuses our attention on Christ who is our way back to God. He is the Good Shepherd who has come to seek and to save that which was lost to God.
The four EVANGELISTS, MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE AND JOHN wrote about our Savior. They are shown in terms of the four-winged creatures found in the arms of the cross: the winged man, the winged lion, and AND THE winged ox and the winged eagle.
The Lord’s Disciples are also symbolized. The SHIELDS OF THE 12 APOLSTLES carved in wood and on the beam running across the ceiling of the Chancel. The MOTHER PELICAN, carved in wood on the front of the Altar—the mother pelican which will feed her young on her own life’s blood—is another symbol of the Christ who gave His life as a ransom for many. The other symbols in the Chancel are on the Word and Sacrament through which Christ comes to us.
Now we turn to the other wall. This will be the New Testament wall, just as the opposite wall took us through the Old Testament era.
We begin with the early church, which was born on Pentecost Day. The SEVEN TONGUES OF FIRE represent the Holy Spirit and His seven gifts. He established the Church on Pentecost Day. The next symbol represents the APOSTOLIC CHURCH, the Church that in the early centuries produced the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds. This is an interesting symbol, helpful in explaining our belief that God is three persons in one—Godhead. The Father is God, but the Father is not the Son. Jesus is God, but Jesus is not the Father, etc. The FISH represents the age of martyrdom that saw so many Christians die because of their faith, and which in a sense drove the Church underground. The Greek word for fish is ICHTHUS. Each letter in this Greek word stood for the first letter in the sentence, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” The sign of the fish became the identification mark of Christians who believed that Jesus was their Savior.
The next panel takes us through the Middle Ages, the Reformation period and into the present. The HEART, with the TWO ARROWS, piercing it, is the symbol of the great church father, St. Augustine, one of the great formers of the theology of the Church. Luther and the Reformation gave us the open Bible again. His 95 THESES (shown by the paper behind the Bible) helped bring the Church back to the teaching of Scripture. The Church has always been thought of as an ark for safety. The Church of our day is our ark. It is to carry us into the harbor of eternity.
The last pane turns our thoughts to the future—to the end of time and the ends of the earth. The Gospel is to be proclaimed to all men before the end shall come. The CROSS triumphs over the world. Yes, we look beyond time into eternity. We think of the Redeemed who have already gone to their reward. We think of the Church in heaven. Its Lord gives the CROWN OF LIFE to the Triumphant Church. We think also of those who are to follow. They, too, are to be saved and be the people of God forever and ever: “No one shall pluck them out of my Father’s hand,” said Jesus. They came from God and they are to return to God. So that God may be all in all.
With this, we have completed our circle, completed our story and have developed our theme: “from God to God.”
Now our eyes go back to the doorway. We look at the other panel in this doorway and see in it the Omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet. Our Lord God is the beginning and the ending, the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. From Him we come, to Him we are to go. This is the purpose of life and the goal of our existence. Shall we permit it?
We come into this Chapel to kneel, to pray and to be with God. Whenever you have done so and are ready to leave, lift up your eyes to the mosaic above the door. Let is say to you: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.”
Depart in peace.