I’ve been collecting charms on a charm bracelet for awhile. Many charm bracelets tell a story. You could say that this one tells a faith story. It’s just a bracelet, not a confession or a person or a church, but you might think it to tell a rather “Lutheran” story. Jewelry isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things, of course– but on a blog about Lutheran art for the church and home, jewelry is bound to show up from time to time. Wearable expressions of faith have a long history, and some of them have a fascinating past. Who among us can forget the special seal that Luther designed which was fashioned into his signet ring, or the intricate crucifixion ring presented to Katie at the Luthers’ betrothal?
This bracelet is literally overloaded with sterling silver charms– 31 of them. I’m actually thinking of “breaking it down” into three separate bracelets so the charms will be more easily viewable. But for the sake of this “world’s most Lutheran” bracelet, here it is in its overloaded glory…
Going clock-wise “past the clasp” near the top, the charms are as follows:
- Galatians 5:22, referencing the fruits of the Spirit. Changed from unwilling into willing children of God, the Spirit enables us to bring forth the fruits of faith.
- A triquetra, symbolizing the Trinity and calling to mind the Creed and Baptism.
- “The Lord bless you and keep you” (Numbers 6:24), the priestly blessing often heard at the end of the church service
- A white enameled Bible, set with marcasite.
- A “Holy Communion” charm, featuring a chalice and host flanked by angels.
- A “95,” referencing the famous Theses of Dr. Luther that got the ball rolling…
- A Luther rose.
- A Ten Commandments charm, the first of the six chief parts of our catechism and a symbol of the Law.
- A Wittenberg/Luther-stadt shield, featuring the town’s coat of arms.
- A colorful enameled Worms shield, with a picture of the cathedral. This is the town where Luther famously refused to recant.
- A disk with the dove of the Holy Spirit.
- A pair of keys, symbolizing the Office of the Keys and the forgiveness and retaining of sins.
- A Heidelberg shield. No, not a reference to that particular catechism, but to the 1518 theses that Luther defended in Heidelberg, differentiating between a “theology of glory” and a “theology of the cross.”
- A prayer book with praying hands.
- A disk that says “Concordia,” a reference to our 1580 confession of faith.
- A pastor standing next to a woman holding a baby, baptizing it!
- An Augsburg shield, the town where the all-important Augsburg Confession was presented to Charles V in 1530.
- A crucifix. “Christ and Him crucified” is our theology.
- A “Holy Eucharist” charm featuring a chalice and host.
- A Martin Luther portrait (after Cranach) with his heraldic rose at the bottom.
- Jesus as the Good Shepherd, holding a lamb.
- A colorful, enameled stained glass window showing Mary and baby Jesus. References the Incarnation, the honor (but not worship) given to the saints, and the fact that we’re not iconoclasts!
- “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
- A tiny round “Faith” disk.
- Another Luther rose, with a slight, soft golden sheen, perhaps previously plated.
- An empty tomb with the stone rolled away; the resurrection, our hope for this life and the next.
- A book titled “The Lord’s Prayer” (the prayer is written out in full on the back).
- An angel singing from a hymnal; suggests that worship is with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven with us, and the value placed on singing and hymnody.
- A shell with a cross above it; “Baptism” written underneath.
- A church with a Luther rose on it.
- A head of Christ disk.
- A church organ.
Here are a few close-ups so you can hopefully see the details a little better…
Here’s the back of the bracelet, also showing the open books. The prayer book has the Lord’s Prayer written out on tiny pages inside. And in case you didn’t know just how Lutheran this bracelet is, multiple charms state “I am a Lutheran” on the reverse side (the head of Christ, the church, the Martin Luther medal, and one of the Luther roses). The Holy Spirit charm says, on the reverse: “Come Holy Ghost, enlighten me.” Third article stuff.