Altarpieces - The Progress Continues3
By the rich blessings of God the Holy Spirit the ornamentation of the Lord's House continues at Christ Lutheran Church. There are two schools of thought on Christian worship, the ceremonious and the un-ceremonious. Lutherans hold to the former.
When we moved into our new church the once Lutheran chancel had been dismantled. The Fundamentalist church that was renting the space emptied it of all its furnishings and replaced them with a stage, and two large video monitors. These are the hallmarks of Fundamentalist worship today. But Lutherans have a very different take on things. And so immediately, upon occupying the building, our people, richly blessed by God's Spirit, began the work of making God's House once again compatible with Lutheran worship.
What you see in the pictures below is the result. In 2016 we had a new altar built, which was dedicated at the time of our church dedication in September of said year. In 2017 we replaced the large brass cross with a crucifix - the sign of God's victory over sin, death and the powers of hell that wreak havoc in this world daily.
Shortly thereafter the booth (housing) for the Lord's statue was constructed and installed. The workmanship is exquisite as is fitting the place of Divine encounter. This past week the booths for our other two altar statues, those of St. John (to your left) and St. Matthew (to your right) were installed. Again, the craftsmanship is elegant. Briefly stated the inclusion of these two statues serve as a dogmatic statement about the person of Christ, that he is "true God begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true Man born of the Virgin Mary." St. Matthew, by his genealogy, shows Jesus to be the descendant of Abraham and son of David. St. John, by his opening verses, shows our Lord to be the Son of God.
What has been unintentionally constructed here (by the leading of God's good Spirit) is an altarpiece. This is not the time and place to go into detail on the subject (you can learn a bit here) except to say that the art, science and theology of altarpieces is venerable and ancient, at least 1700 years old, calling forth man's best efforts, and highest gifts.
As of this writing it is hard to say where this quest will lead, because we are not nearly finished. But with the continued guidance of God's good Spirit, this House of God will be so appointed as to preach the Gospel of Christ, without ever saying a word. That is, after all, what church architecture and decoration (iconography) are meant to do.
While many sermons could be preached on the architecture alone, let me point out just a very few details before closing.
Note that the crucifix towers over all because it is the chief icon of the Christian faith; for by it "salvation unto us has come." (TLH #387). It sets the tone for our faith and worship.
See, too, that the altar (and not the pulpit) occupies the central place, for it is the place where God and man meet. Holy worship is not a social encounter, but a divine one. Here God meets sinful man in grace and mercy. Not to condemn him for his sins, but to forgive him, and take him (man) into himself through Christ - O glorious grace!
All else, the lectern, pulpit, baptismal font, credence table etc. are meant to call men to the altar of God most High, where there are joys forever more.
Observe, too, the candelabras: how they start low and draw the eyes upward to the statues, then to the Lord's cross; which in turn looks down upon the altar where the blessings of the cross are given - the true Body and Blood of Jesus for us Christians to eat and drink, for the remission of sins, life and salvation.
There is much more to say, but we'll save it for another time. To learn more come to the pastor's class each Sunday morning at 9:00 AM and to Divine Service at 10:30 AM. There your cup will overflow with true and beautiful knowledge.