Lutherans are Christians who accept the teachings of Martin Luther (1483 – 1546). Luther was a German theologian who realized that there were significant differences between what he read in the Bible and the practices of the Roman Catholic church at that time. On October 31, 1517, he posted a challenge on the door of Wittenberg University, titled “95 Theses” (to debate 95 theological issues). His hope was that the church would reform its practice and preaching to be more consistent with the Word of God as contained in the Bible.
What started as an academic debate escalated into a distinct separation between the Roman Catholic church of the time and those who accepted Luther’s suggested reforms. "Lutheran" became the name of the group that agreed with Luther’s convictions.
Today, nearly five centuries later, Lutherans still celebrate the Reformation on October 31 and still hold to the basic principles of Luther’s theological teachings, such as Grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone. These comprise the very essence of Lutheranism:
- We are saved by the grace of God alone -- not by anything we do;
- Our salvation is through faith alone -- a confident trust in God, who in Christ promises us forgiveness, life and salvation; and
- The Bible is the norm for faith and life -- the true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.
The artist, Mark Talaba, describes our sanctuary Window: “The Dove Descending”
The dove is recognized far and wide as a symbol of Peace and Purity. In the Christian Church, it is universally emblematic of the Holy Ghost, and these designs for Holy Spirit Lutheran Church revolve around this meaning. In the tall south-facing window and the attached diagonal clerestory light, the form of a descending dove is delineated in white opalescent glass. Much of the form, however, is left to the imagination, as the body and most of one wing are “concealed” behind (or within) the brick wall. The invisible connection between the visible parts of the form suggests that aspect of faith, which demands that we accept and believe things we cannot fully comprehend. Then, through faith, we see and understand. The downward sweep of the dove, and of the adjacent crackled glass area, counter balances the upward “arrowhead” shape of the vertical and diagonal lights, leading the eye gently downward and over toward the altar.
The diagonal forms in the northeast window act in much the same way, and also connect with the sweep of spiritual energy from the dove window. Thus the light and movement from the tall “heavenly” window seems to move down, through the sanctuary and up again, instilling thoughts and feelings – “Fruit of the Spirit” – which inspire, fulfill and uplift. In both windows, the color progression from dark blue/violet to light blue/green and amber enhances the effect, suggesting also the light of the Gospel, which emanates from the sanctuary. The predominance of cool, dark hues and opalescent glass areas will effectively shield the interior from strong sunlight, and the opalescent glass makes the dove visible on the exterior by day or night. The cross, superimposed on the wing of the dove, clearly identifies this as a Christian work of art.