The Church’s One Foundation

My “aunt-in-law,” Nancy Mattys, commissioned me to create a painting for her pastor and his new wife. Here’s what I came up with.

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I originally planned to do something that looked rather more “Gothic stained glass,” as is my wont, but by a sort of happy accident I ended up trying my hand at a sort of Tiffany-esque, Art Nouveau style instead. The floral details suggest an Eden motif; the bottom-most picture depicts the creation of Eve from the side of Adam, paralleled by the creation of the Church through the opened side of Christ. Ancient church tradition also suggests that Christ was crucified in the spot where Adam was buried, referencing the triumph of the second Adam, Christ, over sin and death. The water and blood from Christ’s side has also, since ancient times, been seen as a reflection of the marks of the Church, Baptism and the Supper, from which the Church receives life and is sustained. The Baptism medallion, the water and the Word, is featured in the upper left-hand corner. In the right-hand corner is the miracle of Cana, the turning of water into wine, signifying the joy of the Bride and Bridegroom in the marriage feast of God’s eternal paradise.

Pastor David Petersen put it rather nicely in a very recently-done wedding sermon

“When God’s wrath had been appeased, when the serpent’s head was crushed, on the 6th day of the week, the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Jesus on the cross. His Body and Soul were rent asunder. We would say that He was dead and we would not be wrong. Hell had done its worst. It was spent. It could do no more. It used everything it had on Him. It is not only out of ammunition but also energy and ability. There was no one left to accuse us, no justice, no Law. It was finished. Christ’s soul then went to His Father. His Body would go to the ground. The devil would not get either His Body or His soul. But before that, the Lord God opened up His side. Water and blood flowed from His ribs. Then the Lord God closed up the flesh and put Him to bed in the earth.

“From the rib’s water and blood, which the LORD God had taken from the New Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ, He made a woman. She is made of water and blood from the side of Christ and she was made for Him. The devil could not have Her. Then the Lord God woke Christ from His sleep. His body and His soul were rejoined. He gave the woman made of water and Blood unto the Man as His Holy Bride. And the Man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Christian, because she was taken out of Christ.’

The Man Jesus, our New Adam, left His Father, came to earth and was forsaken. In that leaving, that forsaking, He has cleaved unto His wife, unto us, His Holy Bride, and joins Himself to us, again and again, in the Holy Communion as one flesh with Him. He is to us everything that Adam should have been to Eve and more. He has endured and overcome temptation in our place. He has suffered our shame and punishment. He has brought us back from the slavery of prostitution at a cost far higher than 15 shekels and a quantity of barley, with nothing less than all He had, right down to His last breath. Despite what we have done He still calls us by His own name and loves us.”

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