The symbols used in church are amazing.
For instance, did you know that Baptismal fonts are traditionally octagonal is shape? The reason they are octagonal is that the 8 sides represent the “8th day” that Christians are baptized into. 8th day? The 8th day is Easter Sunday! Sunday is usually the first day of the next week but Easter Sunday is counted as the 8th, and final, day of Holy Week.
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
(Romans 6:4 ESV)
We are baptized into Easter. We live in Easter. We walk, everyday, in the joy of Easter. We are Easter people! We are the people of the 8th and most glorious day!
Let that sink in for a couple days… or weeks! Can you imagine all the implications that can be drawn from this ONE SYMBOL!!! Symbols are important but are meaningless for the unaware.
The symbols of the Christian church are used to enhance worship and teach a Biblical worldview, but they do neither if people don’t know they exist or what they mean. I like to call this dead symbolism. So, what shall we do? Should we remove every symbol from our churches, paint the walls white, and start fresh? No. Should we ditch the old traditional church building and meet in strip malls? No. Should we go on using all the symbols and symbolic gestures that we have been using for years, “because that is just how we have always done it.” No.
We should not use symbols only for the sake of tradition, but we also shouldn’t trash symbols in a shallow effort to be “organic, authentic, or relevant.”
The easy answer would be to slide to either extreme. It is easy to be high church(can someone please post on what this actually means today) or contemporary(can someone also please post on what this actually means today) and take the stance that the other group has lost their way. As Lutherans we are familiar with tension. We live in tension. We love tension. Simul Iustus et Peccator! I believe that we must honour and enjoy the tension of symbolism as well.
Each of us must find the balance that our individual congregations need for where they are at today and where they will be tomorrow. While we do this we must also support, and not undermine, our brothers as they seek to find the same balance.
We need symbols but we need symbols that are alive! Reminding. Convicting Comforting.
+soli Deo glorio+