Full Text for Lutheran Worship 2- Volume 63 - Confessional Principles and Artwork in Worship Space (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY LUTHERAN WORSHIP 2 63.LW2 Captioning provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 ******** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ******** >> PAUL: That's helpful. Thank you. Let me build on David's question. How do the confessional principles guide decisions about artwork in worship spaces? >> DR. JAMES BRAUER: Well, the principles lead us to know what is really central, what God does among us. And to think about the art we want to place there, whatever that be, whether it's handcrafted by people in the congregation or some art piece that has been used many times in other places that they can place in that space or whether it's a commissioned work, it can actually function to be part and parcel of our central principles. Now, maybe to get at some key questions there, I have two crosses. The first one I lift up is a fine piece of work done in wood. And here we see that the artist has taken the central cross shape and has made creative features at the end of each part that are quite elaborate. They don't have much to do with the central shape of it, but they make it special and an interesting object to look at. And then the weight of it is somewhat made slimmer by having cut away of some material along this interesting shape. It's not squared off. It has a lot of curves in this design. It's a cross. What does the cross remind us of? The one who died there, our Lord Jesus Christ. In this case, just the cross with curlicues. Now, here's a cross that has a corpus on it. It's a stylized corpus. The cross is very plain. It's the shape that tells us right away that it's a cross with the body on it. There are two arms with what look like nails or remind us of nails. Two legs and ankles, we see some nail-like features to remind us of that. There is on the side of the corpus a little hole placed there to remind us of the wound in the side. So this is an image of the dead Christ. The wound confirms that it is after death. Indeed, this says somewhat more completely he died. Which is better? Would it be a cross that is empty and curlicued, interesting shape without a Corpus? Or would it be the one that has a Corpus on that. I think you could argue either way. If you want my personal opinion, I think the cross is meant to show us that it was an instrument of death. So if we would study the history of altars in Lutheran churches through the centuries, we�d discover that almost always people put a cross with a corpus there. It's only in the last half century that we got to the empty cross as a central design in many places. Now, what are we trying to do when we place such an object in the worship space? Well, it's quite obvious with this that we want them to think of the things of God, the mystery and the incarnation, that he would send his Son, in this case, that he would let his son be put to death in our place. And that this would be a central thing, an object that is of torture and death is central to our faith and life. Not a pleasant thought, in a way. But once you know what it means, it is a pleasant thought. And for one that we can give great thanks again and again. Now, other objects can be chosen to tell the stories of faith in the Old Testament, stories of faith in the New Testament, to remind us of God's actions on this earth, God's words. You can even take banners and put texts on them to remind us of words. So we can continually invent things, but generally, they�re going to be things that point us toward God and what he does, even decorating the objects in the space. For example, to remind us on the front of the pulpit with a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Or to take the Luther symbol that we looked at before with the heart and a cross in the middle and the flower petals, once that's taught, people can rehearse the story that goes with it. So it has a power that can get connected then in our principles to the giving out of the word. It can even be kind of an evoking of the praise of God by looking at it. Powerfully connected when used in a wise way.