Sanctuary and Chapel
On the west exterior wall of the church is an outline of the head and shoulders of the Good Shepherd. Jesus used the symbol of the shepherd in revealing His mission to mankind.
The main door of the church is flanked by two tablets of stone. While the tablets do not contain the commandments, they do have carved into them words from God which have become most precious to the believer. The tablets further symbolize the fact the church does not change its doctrine with the changing times, but holds fast to that which is eternal. The door pulls to Our Savior’s Church are also inscribed, with the words ‘I am the Way.’
The Sanctuary of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church is reminiscent of the tomb of Christ on Easter Morning. Light streams in across the altar from a narrow window.
The altar is a most sacred symbol of the church. It represents the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Altars throughout the world have five Greek crosses incised into their upper surfaces. These represent the five wounds of our Lord.
No symbol is more meaningful the Christian than the crucifix and none is more appropriate to the church. It is a visual reminder to all who enter that the church is founded on the act of our Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary. The crucifix above the altar at Our Savior’s was carved by the Swiss artist, Christ Steiner. At the top of the crucifix are the letters INRI. This is the abbreviation for the Latin words ‘Jesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum’, meaning Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
The seven candlesticks beneath the crucifix represent the gifts of the Spirit–wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, piety, and the fear of the Lord.
The candles on the altar at each side of the ‘Calvary Cross’ represent our Lord as the Light of the world. These sacramental or Gospel lights also symbolize the Lord’s two natures, the human and the divine. The sanctuary lamp is seen suspended from the chancel ceiling. It is kept burning day and night and is sometimes called ‘the eternal light.’
The living vine which climbs the chancel wall brings to mind the words of Jesus, “I am the vine, you are the branches.’
The baptismal font with its four granite shafts is a reminder that the Gospel is to be spread to the four corners of the earth. At the top of the font cover is a miniature cross.
The design on the wall above the font is a dove depicting the Holy Spirit and silver waves depicting the waters of baptism.
Both the altar and the baptismal font are crafted from locally quarried Mesabi granite.
The use of the number three in church construction is always symbolic of the Holy Trinity. Our Savior’s has its stained glass parable windows in three groups. There are also three pillars along the south aisle; the chancel is raised three steps above the nave; and the base of the altar is again three steps higher than the chancel floor.
On the organ screen above the balcony, several traditional symbols have been delicately woven into the pattern–a cross, waves of baptism, the flame of the Holy Spirit, the Chi Rho, and the triangle. The Chi Rho is an ancient monogram derived from the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ and becomes an abbreviation of His name. It appears as the letter X with a P superimposed upon it.
The Pilgrim’s Chapel is used for funerals, baptisms, and prayer vigils.
Four triangular ceramic mosaics decorate the exterior of the Chapel. One large mosaic depicts the Risen Savior. He stands before the open tomb. He is attired with the loosened grave wrappings. In one hand He holds aloft the banner of triumph and in the other the shield of faith.
The second mosaic emphasizes the Pentecost. There is a shield of faith decorated with a descending dove–the universal symbol for the Holy Spirit. There are seven lights along the bottom of the scene, representing the tongues of flame by which the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles on Pentecost. The seven candles may also be taken to represent the seven gifts of the Spirit–wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.
The third mosaic, a cross above two interlocking rings, symbolizes matrimony. The form of the cross that is used in this scene has an interesting history. It is one used from earliest Christian times. The vertical portion of the cross is the letter ‘I’, for the first letter of the name ‘Jesus’. The ‘X’ is the abbreviation for Christ. The artist has used this cross to signify the Savior’s blessing upon the two rings, emblems of love and faithfulness. Candles inside the rings express the idea of the light that will enter a home graced by the presence of Him who is the Son of God and Son of Man.
The last mosaic of the Pilgrim’s Chapel represents the harvest of the Lord. In this scene, there are seven stalks of good wheat (the faithful) held within a crown (their reward). Along the bottom of the panel are the Greek symbols–the Alpha and Omega, and the Chi Rho.
Eight additional mosaic scenes adorn the west side of the education building. These relate the story of the Master’s life on earth, from the manger to the tomb: