Church art depicts prophecy in image

Church art depicts prophecy in image

Joan Williams Hoar

We usually understand Advent as the season of preparation for the birth of Christ. A cursory query of the Bible though, provides an additional understanding.

The Psalms give hints and clues as to the sacrifice to be made on the cross. In Psalm 69:21, sour wine is mentioned and Psalm 72:10, prophesies gifts to be brought by the Kings. Isaiah 53:4, speaks of the suffering servant.

Our Church art and architecture contain prophecies in image, signs of preparation for the cross.

In “The Nativity” window, Epiphany panel, notice the three gifts offered by the wise men, The Three Kings. One gift is myrrh according to Matthew 2:11. Myrrh is a spice used in embalming, an emblem of death to one who will suffer.

“Preparation for Christ Ministry,” the second window, includes the Baptism of Jesus panel. A small cross is displayed over the shell. Baptism, a sacrament, serves as a reminder of faith promises. The symbolic act of baptism is the cleansing of the believer from sins, and preparation for eternal life. Colossians 2:12, reminds us that in baptism we were buried with Christ and have the promise of resurrection.

“For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.” – Colossians 2:12

When we reach the finality of this physical life, the promise is fulfilled, that of eternal life with the Trinity: The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Columbarium, located between the Kerr Building and the Sanctuary, reminds us of the promise with the shape of a cross in the pavement. All four Gospels fulfill the prophecy of the Old Testament.

The Birth of Christ, the Life of Christ and the sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross.

Advent is a time to reflect on the birth of Christ and what this birth has meant over the centuries. It is a time to be mindful this life is finite ... but our eternal life is infinite. The cross is a reminder of our need to prepare.

“God’s secret plan has now been revealed to us; it is a plan centered on Christ designed long ago according to his good pleasure.” – Ephesians 1:9

Many thanks to Joan Hoar who has authored features on First Church crosses over the past two years. Joan is the Church historian and co-chair of the History and Archives committee.