Jul 20, 2008

My Journey in Symbolism

These two banners hang on the walls of our church's family life center. I painted them on muslin commonly used for scenery flats for theater. The paint was a vinyl acrylic. This was one of my biggest and most enjoyable projects to date. Each banner is approximately 10'x15'.

I love to use symbolism to convey a message to the viewer. The church wanted to have the banners reflect the five purposes of our church, which I conveyed through the wording shown above along with the symbols.

I first researched the Old Testament tabernacle and the symbolism that lies within and how it pertains to us as Christians today. Later I did some reading on Solomon's temple. I thought it appropriate to use these dwelling places of God as we decorate our church building realizing that God's dwelling place is now in our hearts and not the actual building. (Exodus 25:8-9, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 2:19-22)

I then studied the decorative elements that were described in the tabernacle and the temple and concentrated on the symbolism of each of the following that I used in the murals: palm branches, almond flowers, and pomegranates. To bridge the Old and New Testament tabernacle/temple with the church today, I used the grape vine which symbolizes our relationship to Christ as we are attached as branches to the Vine. (John 15:4-5).

Church mission statement: The church is to make known the Gospel of Christ's death and resurrection as the means by which the world is to be reconciled.

The almond flower symbol was used for the construction of the lamp stand in the tabernacle - the lamp stand being the symbol of Christ, the light of the world. (John 8:12) (Exodus 25:33-34) Aaron's rod and an almond branch that blossomed and bore ripe almonds as a sign that Aaron for the house of Levi was God's choice of priest. (Numbers 17:7-8). The almond flower is historically known as a symbol of resurrection because it is the first tree to flower.

Church mission statement: It is to possess that living hope whereby it knows its destiny to be the eternal enjoyment of the presence of God.

The pomegranate was used in both the tabernacle and the temple. Moses was instructed in the wilderness by God on how to prepare the robes of the high Priest (who is a foreshadowing of Christ) (Exodus 28:33) (Hebrews 7:26-27). The robes were decorated with pomegranates, the symbol for eternal life as well as fertility because of its many seeds.

Church mission statement: It is to glorify God through its worship, its witness, its service, and its life, both now and forevermore.

Palm branches were used to glorify God. (John 12:12-13) (Revelation 7:9-12). Stately palm trees were associated with rejoicing on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. (Leviticus 23:40). Palm trees adorned Solomon's temple. (I Kings 6:29).

Church mission statement: It is to provide a ministry that those who respond to this Gospel may grow in grace and knowledge, that they may come to fullness in life in Christ, and that they may be equipped for His service.

The grape vine is used in John 15:4-5 to show our connection with Christ as a prerequisite for spiritual growth.

Church mission statement: It is to reclaim the warmth of Christian fellowship as the prized and joyful expression of its corporate oneness with Jesus Christ.

The grape vine is continued to the second banner from the first, and it shows that when we are attached to the VINE or Christ, our lives can intertwine with other believers for strength and support. (Colossians 3:14-17).