Concordia Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas holds services each Sunday at 9 a.m. & Bible study at 10:15 a.m.
The symbols say things - march / april 2019
We live in a world where we use symbols to speak, explain, and help us remember important things. Even the good Lord uses symbols throughout His Word to teach us lessons, and help us bring to mind those events, people, and teachings that are so vital. The Messiah is lauded as the Lion of Judah. The Holy Spirit is shown as a descending dove and tongues of flame. Even the Word is described as a sharp, two-edged sword.
Long before I discovered that it was drawn from Scripture, I loved that St. John Lutheran School had the mascot of the Eagle. As I said, this was before I knew that the Gospel of St. John is symbolized by the eagle. (You see the four living creatures seen in Ezekiel and Revelation have four faces: human, lion, ox, and eagle, and these four faces were ascribed to the four Gospels: Matthew: the man, Mark: the lion, Luke: the ox, and John: the eagle.) But in my young mind I knew that eagle meant St. John, church and school. This was also back in the day when the Busch Brewery on I-10 had a great, rotating neon sign on its tower. As the sign rotated the symbol of the Busch family, the big A for Anheuser with an eagle, changed into an animated eagle flying while continually rotating on the top of the building. To me it was like they knew how important St. John was. That eagle was St. John’s eagle to me.
Well, this shows how flexible symbols can be. One case as an example is the five-pointed star. To a farmer a five-pointed star could be their favorite supplier: Lone Star Feed and Fertilizer. To Dallas fans it stands first for their Cowboys. Of course, it represented first the grand Republic (state) of Texas.
The same goes with our own beloved crosses. To those who have been called into His family, it is that wonderful reminder of Jesus, sacrificed for our own lives. We wear those little symbols of His execution to remind us and the world that we are dead and made alive again by what Christ has done for us. But to many in the world it is just a cute little symbol. In its many forms: tau cross, chi cross, fleur-de-lis, even the iron cross, the cross is just a nice decoration and simple adornment with no faith or meaning whatsoever.
So, in this time when we celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection, I’d like to impress on you a symbol that the world has not yet tried to negate, water down, or get rid of - the Pelican in her Piety. Yes, like the simple fish symbol, a picture of a pelican surrounded by her young is an early symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for us and also a symbol of His continued care of the church.
The pelican was chosen as deserving of this tribute because sailors recognized how the mothers rarely left their young. Their constant devotion and care were admired by their observers. But something extra was witnessed. Mother and father bird would pluck out their feathers, especially from their breasts, to keep their young warm in the wet coastal winds. And they would continually replace the feathers as the chicks grew. This caused the parents to often cause themselves to bleed from the frequent pluckings. The sailors and seamen saw the blood of the parents and the young surrounding them and assumed that the birds were feeding their young with their own blood to ensure their health and growth. To these people, what else is that a sign of but Jesus shedding His own blood for our lives, health and growth.
So now, I give you an assignment. Try to find a pelican pendant. More than a colorful cross or a big crucifix, the simple pelican could give you an opportunity to spread the true meaning Christ in your life to all who ask, “Why are you wearing that?”
In His peace,