The following article was submitted by Pastor Norman Natzke, Pastor at the time of the construction (1965) of Zion Lutheran Church, 1400 Skeel Street.
STAINED GLASS PANELS ABOVE ALTAR – ZION LUTHERAN CHURCH – BRIGHTON
As requested, I will share with you the thinking that went into the planning of the chancel area.
When we viewed that area with its expansive space, we felt that the church building should be more than a place to meet and worship. We felt that especially the chancel area should be a powerful aid to worship. Since the area divided itself so easily into three sections it seemed appropriate to use this area to symbolize the God we worship – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the Triune God, as we confess in the Apostles’ Creed.
The stained glass panel on the left shows the hand, which symbolizes the work of God the Father, Who formed the universe; Who sustains us; Who protects us; Who reaches out to comfort and bless us
and ultimately welcomes us into our eternal home. The rays of light at the bottom symbolize the six days of creation. All this against the background of the brilliant hues of blue/red reminds us of the brilliance and beauty of God’s creation as we experience it each day.
The central wood panel features the cross on which the Son of God died, to remind us of what Christ has done for us. A reminder that “God so loved the world that He gave His only son”. On the large panel behind the cross, there are also smaller panels about Christ’s work of redemption. These panels are to remind us of what we con-fess in the second article of the Apostles’ Creed. In Luther’s small catechism Christ’s work of redemption is described as “State of Humiliation” and “State of Exultation”. The panels on the left were to remind us of Christ’s State of Humiliation, which is: “conceived by the Holy Spirit; born of the virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried”. The panels on the right are to remind us of Christ’s State of Exultation, which is: “He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead”. Originally we considered symbols to highlight these events in Christ’s work of redemption. However, we could not come up with anything that would be symbolic and yet not distract from the overall simplicity and significance of this panel.
The right stained glass panel, the dove, symbolizes the work of the Holy Spirit, who “calls, enlightens, sanctifies and keeps us in faith.” The rays of light at the base of the panel symbolize the “fruits of the spirit” as found in Galatians 5:22 – love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Again in this panel with its brilliant color, we hope to express the spiritual life given to us here and in the glory of the life to come.
Basically, the intent in developing the chancel area was to symbolically remind the worshippers of the awesome God, Who created and still cares for us; Who loves us and forgives us; and Who empowers us with faith, hope and peace.
Finally, as I view these stained glass windows, I am reminded of your generosity and dedication to the Lord. I hope the above reflections are helpful. I’m sure more could be added.
Pastor Norman Natzke