ABOUT THIS Light FIXTURE
The baptismal light fixture was commissioned by Wicker Park Lutheran Church to better illuminate the baptistry while drawing on the existing historic elements of the worship space and expanding our understanding of God’s love in baptism. The artist Catherine Schwalbe designed an exquisite piece with seven components, which embodies the symbolic Judeo-Christian understanding of “fullness” or “completeness” as found in the Biblical creation narrative.
First, the decoratively painted ceiling reflects the historic color palette of the worship space. Thomas Melvin Studios painted the five petaled, stylized rendition of the Luther Rose. The rose is a widely recognized symbol of Lutheranism and was designed for Martin Luther in 1530. The gold, red, and sky blue create a domed-like view of the metal and glass components that descend below.
The first hanging part from the ceiling is a painted metal outline of the same stylized Luther Rose that is featured in both the magnificent Rose Window on the east end of the worship space and painted designs throughout the space. The color of the painted metal matches the light fixtures throughout the sanctuary. This first ring is the only lit portion. The light washes the ceiling and illuminates the baptistry with five small downward spot lights. It may symbolize that we have one God who illuminates our path to seek justice, peace, and love.
Further down the fixture are three painted metal shapes that may remind us of the Trinity or the Biblical representation of divine wholeness. Their forms are taken from symbols within the sanctuary. The shape closest to the ceiling reflects the processional cross that is carried for all principal services and processions as a reminder of God’s presence among us. The next two shapes are stylized, four-petaled symbols. One is taken from the stencil on the wall behind the baptismal font and the other from the stained glass in the baptistry. Both shapes are part of the sacred geometry seen and created throughout many cultures worldwide.
The rain drops–hung irregularly, like rain–symbolize our own human body, principally made up of water, along with our own need for clean water to survive, and most importantly, the water used at baptism. These baptismal waters are an outward sign that remind us of an inward grace freely given by God. In the Lutheran church, baptism is one of two sacraments, the other being Holy Communion.
Finally, the pounded brass dove over the font recalls the image of the Holy Spirit descending like a dove at Jesus’ own baptism (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, and John 1:32). The dove’s shape comes from the Rev. Jason Gombicki’s embellished stole– a vestment worn on the shoulders as a reminder of the pastor’s call to proclaim God’s message.
ABOUT LITURGICAL ART
A Lutheran understanding of the arts in worship sees them as assisting in proclaiming the word. This is much more than decoration or pleasant background. The various arts are among the human languages used to convey the means of grace as they proclaim the word and support the Sacraments. Art forms that are more than verbal provide a balance to the spoken word, so that worship s not overwhelmed with words, but rather includes other forms of expression that are also gifts of God to engage the whole person.