The Windows of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
By the Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
The windows of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, when looked at together, represent the three persons of the Trinity, and thus visualize the namesake of the church. On the right (east) side of the church are the windows of God the Father. In the front (north) over the chancel is the great window of God the Son. On the left (west) side of the church are the windows of God the Holy Spirit.
The windows of God the Father are seven in number and represent the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.
1. Introduction and First Petition, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name”: The first window contains the all-seeing eye of God looking down on the folded, praying hands of his beloved humanity.
2. Second Petition, “Your kingdom come”: The dove of the Holy Spirit, a symbol of faith, is seen descending upon the crown of Christ who ushers in the kingdom of God.
3. Third Petition, “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven”: Signs of heaven (sun and moon) and a Christianized earth (orb and cross) portray the extent of God’s kingdom and will.
4. Fourth Petition, “Give us today our daily bread”: The right hand of God the provider is extended to give the chalice and grapes (bringing to mind the sacrament of Holy Communion) and the fish and the loaves of bread (bringing to mind the feeding of the five thousand, Mark 6:45 –52.)
5. Fifth Petition, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”: God’s right hand is raised in absolution over the shrouded cross of Christ, colored by the blood that was spilled for our sins.
6. Sixth Petition, “Save us from the time of trial”: The dove of the Holy Spirit is seen twice, descending and ascending (i.e., coming to us again and again) to create strong faith within us, represented by the blue waters of baptism crossing the window.
7. Seventh Petition, “Deliver us from evil”: That ancient serpent of the Garden of Eden, who is said to be Satan in Rev. 12:9, is portrayed under the controlling hand of God, representing God’s ultimate victory over sin and evil.
The great window of God the Son portrays Jesus Christ enthroned in the center of the window as King of the universe, with traditional symbols of crown, orb and scepter. Above him are the blessing hands of God the Father and the symbol of the Holy Spirit descending as a dove, representative of the story of Christ’s baptism (Mk. 1:9–11) as well as affirmation of Christ’s special place in the Godhead.
Two angels on bended knees laud the Christ with upraised hands beside his head. Below, in the far corners, two more angels lead praises to Christ the King with blasts of the trumpet. In the midsection, sun, moon, planets and stars combine with all the heavenly host to hail him as King of the universe.
Standing in two rows surrounding Christ’s throne are witnesses to the Messiah from the Old and New Testaments. Directly beside Christ, on the left, is Moses holding the book of the Covenant, and on the right, John the Baptist with his traditional staff in the form of a cross. They are reminders of Christ’s transfiguration in which Moses and Elijah appeared to the left and right of Christ (Matt. 17:1–8). John the Baptist was said to be the return of Elijah and forerunner of the promised Messiah (Matt. 17:9 –13).
Filling out the top row of personages are the four major prophets of the Old Testament, Isaiah and Jeremiah (left of Moses), Daniel and Ezekiel (right of John the Baptist.)
Below Christ are the 12 Apostles plus two representatives of later Christianity. From left to right are:
1. St. George with his traditional symbols of armor, sword, and the defeated dragon under his feet. (He is the only non-Biblical figure in the window.)
2. St. John, wearing the deep red robe symbolic of divine love as the Beloved Disciple.
3. St. James the Younger with his youthful dark hair and beard.
4. St. James the Elder with signs of his trade as fisherman.
5. St. Bartholomew with his traditional symbols of the book and the flaying knife by which he was martyred.
6. St. Jude, also known as Thaddeus, with his hands crossed.
7. St. Peter holding the key to the kingdom (forgiveness) given by Christ (Matt. 16:18 –19).
8. St. Matthew with the money and purse of a tax collector.
9. St. Philip with the loaves that were multiplied at the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1 –14).
10. St. Matthias with the ax that caused his martyrdom.
11. St. Thomas with his carpenter’s plumb line.
12. St. Andrew with the X-shaped cross on which he was martyred.
13. St. Simon the Zealot holding his traditional symbol of the fish.
14. St. Paul holding his traditional symbol of the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” over the open Bible (Eph. 6:17).
The fourteen Christian disciples are surrounded by symbols of the gospel and of Christ’s eternal attributes, thus giving shape and direction to their Christian witness:
To the left, by the head of St. George, is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, Alpha. Opposite, on the right and by the head of St. Paul, is the last letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega. Together, they recall Christ’s own words about himself quoted in the Revelation to St. John: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (22:13). They speak of his eternal divinity, as God is also described in similar terms (Rev. 1:8).
Below the Alpha and Omega are the four living creatures described as surrounding the throne of God in Ezekiel (ch 1) and in the Revelation to St. John (ch 4). Taken with the Alpha and Omega in this window of Christ, they too are symbolic of Christ’s divinity. Later tradition identified each of the four living creatures with the four gospels. To the left is the winged man representing the gospel of St. Matthew. Below him is the winged lion representing the gospel of St. Mark. To the right is the eagle representing the gospel of St. John. And below that is the winged bull or ox representing the gospel of St. Luke.
The windows of God the Holy Spirit on the west side of the church portray seven descending doves over seven flames. Looking at the windows together as a group, the flames are atop a great seven-stick candelabra known as a menorah, especially associated with temple worship. Both flames and doves are traditional signs of the Holy Spirit, the dove descending upon Christ at his baptism (Mk. 1:10) and the tongues of fire resting above the heads of the disciples at the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:3). The number seven is a holy number in scripture, denoting completeness, perfection, and consummation. Paul speaks of seven gifts of the Holy Spirit in Romans 12:6-8, which are: 1. Prophecy, 2. Ministry, 3. Teaching, 4. Exhortation, 5. Generosity, 6. Leadership, and 7. Compassion. Peter also speaks of seven virtues of faith (which is the Spirit’s work) in 2 Peter 1:5-8---1. Goodness, 2. Knowledge, 3. Self-Control, 4. Endurance, 5. Godliness, 6. Mutual Affection, and 7. Love.