The Goldfinch Paraments
EXPLANATION OF THE GREEN PARAMENTS
The green parament design for Ascension Lutheran Church in Towson, Maryland, is rich in biblical symbolism germane to the worship and life of the congregation. It is a bold design to focus the eyes and thought of worshippers.
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In the Altar design, above, a bold vine abundant with grapes frames a picture-like scene. The Bible is rich in vine imagery in both Old and New Testament.
- In the Old Testament the Israel, the chosen people of God, is the vine. Jeremiah 2:21 says, “I planted you a choice vine”. Psalm 80:8 says “Thou didst bring a vine out of Egypt.” Creation and redemption are thus expressed in vine imagery, above.
- In the New Testament Jesus expresses his relationship to his followers in vine imagery. ”I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.” John 15:5. Thus the vine is the people of God in general and the people of Ascension in particular.
The grapes are a reminder of the wine of the Sacrament of the Altar as well as the imperative to bear good fruit. The vine is planted in the rich soil by the water.
Note that the water, above, is threefold in color as a reminder of our Baptism in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. It is our life that is planted in the rich soil of God’s Word and nourished by sacramental waters. Psalm I says of the blessed, “He is like a tree planted by the streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
Sheep, above, are in the center of the design recalling the rich biblical imagery of God’s care.
- That care is vividly expressed by the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 34 in which the Lord God declares, “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak and the fat and the strong I will watch over, I will feed them in justice.” (34:15:16) The entire chapter expresses God’s gracious care.
- The same imagery is present in the 23rd Psalm, with words and phrases among the most familiar in scripture.
- The imagery reaches its essence of meaning in the 10th chapter of St. John’s gospel when Jesus declares, “I am the good shepherd, I know my own and my own know me…and I lay down my life for the sheep.” That present and eternal care of God is known in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. In every service of worship, this imagery reminds us of God’s abundant care. We are known and we know.
The day lilies, above, recall Jesus teaching in the Sermon on the Mount regarding God’s care for us. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:28-29. Every time we see a day lily in the gardens of our world we are reminded of that gracious care of our God.
The Pulpit parament, above, continues the flowing picture-like design framing the fields sown with the seeds of the Word.
- It is a reminder of Jesus” Parable of the Sower.” As such, it is a vivid symbol for the pulpit where the Word, like seed, is proclaimed and sown in every worship celebration. Our lives are like the fields, above, where God is constantly sowing the seed and desirous of the good harvest of the Kingdom.
There is a Goldfinch, above, in the design, continuing Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6 regarding God’s care.
- There is important symbolism in the Goldfinch. In Renaissance legend the Goldfinch, which feeds on thistles and thorns, became so distressed when they placed the crown of thorns on Jesus head that it attempted to eat the thorns to relieve Jesus’ suffering. Thus it is a reminder of our responsibility as God’s faithful people, to relieve suffering in our world. “In as much as you have done it to the least of these…you have done it to me.” Matthew 25.
Two identical stoles for the ministers, above, complete the vine imagery and repeat the goldfinch imagery.
The paraments are bright in color and rich in imagery and meaning. They are a constant reminder to worshippers of God’s care and of their life in God. They visualize much of the mission and ministry of Ascension Lutheran Church and are given in memory of Linda and Natalie Groff.
Artist: Vickie DeVilbiss, Celebration Art
Explanation: The Rev. Ray E. Blanset
With the Communications Coordinator’s thanks to Susan and Paul Hartman for their collaboration on this page.