The stained glass window above the altar uses symbols to represent the Christian faith as summarized in the Apostle's Creed. This document explains those symbols and their meaning in relationship to the Creed.
|The HAND ISSUING FROM THE CLOUDS symbolizes God the Father.||The 6 POINTED STAR is the star of creation and symbolizes our triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Palm Branch Symbolizes a part of God's creation that was later used at Jesus' Triumphal Entry. (Matthew 21:8)|
|The LAMB symbolizes the Son of God who came "to save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21) Jesus was the "Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world." (John 1:29)||The DOVE symbolizes the Holy Spirit who descended on Jesus at His baptism in that visual form. (Matthews 3:16)|
|The CRESCENT MOON and the PIERCED HEART symbolize the Virgin Mary. These symbols relate to Mary's pierced heart after witnessing her Son Jesus' death. (Luke 2:35)||The PILLAR WITH CROSSING WHIPS symbolize the trial, condemnation and suffering of Jesus as He was tied to such a pillar in order to be scourged with lead-tipped whips. (Matthew 27:26)|
|The CROWN OF THORNS and 3 NAILS (Matthew 27:27-31) symbolize Jesus' death and victory over sin and death.||The FISH symbolizes that Jesus died and was buried. It also exhibits each person's need for a Savior and that salvation only comes through Jesus Christ.|
|The DRAGON'S HEAD symbolizes the devil, sin and hell. (Revelation 12:13)||The golden POMEGRANATE is a symbol of the power of God who overcame death through Jesus' resurrection from the tomb. It is also a symbol for royalty and the future life. (Mark 16:1-8)|
|The FIERY CHARIOT symbolizes the ascent of Jesus into heaven, 40 days after the resurrection, (Acts 1:9) Note also the reference to Elijah's ascension in (II Kings 2:11).||The CROSSED TRUMPETS are symbolic of Jesus' triumphal reign with the Father, the Second Coming and the final judgment. (I Thessalonians 4:16)|
|The SEVEN FLAMES symbolize the Holy Spirit and the fire associated with the Spirit's coming on the day of Pentecost. The number 7 is God's number of perfection. (Acts 2:1-4)||The CHURCH ON THE ROCK is a reference to Matthew 7:24 wherein Jesus exhorts His followers to build their spiritual house on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ and His Word.|
|The CHALICE OF GOLD symbolizes the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper where all Christians gather as the "communion of saints" in worship. (I Corinthians 11:25-28)||The ARK symbolizes the church who speaks forth the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins for all who would repent, believe and be baptized. (I Peter 3:18-22)|
|The BUTTERFLY symbolizes eternal life with Jesus Christ wherein believers will dwell with God forever. (Revelation 21:1-7)||The CROWN symbolizes Jesus as our King who will bestow the "Crown of Righteousness" on all believers who die in Him. (II Timothy 4:7-8)|
|The Book of Common Prayer (1662)||The Ecumenical Version (1988)|
As the Christian church spread throughout the Roman world in the 1St century, and as the first apostles died out, there was a practical need for local churches to have a basic statement of beliefs from which all could agree and from which new believers could profess faith and be baptized.
One of the doctrinal statements commonly used in the Western empire was called the Apostles' Creed. The word "creed" comes from the Latin word credo, meaning "I believe." It was called "Apostles" not because the apostles wrote it, but because the Creed was believed to be an accurate summary of what the apostles taught.
The Creed was useful as a public statement of faith for all Christians. It anchored Christian faith to a tradition, to make it difficult for Christians to be led astray by false teachers. It also provided a doctrinal basis for different Christian churches to align themselves with one another.
Writing in Greek around the year 200 AD, Irenaeus described a creed similar to the Apostles' Creed. An early Latin version of the Creed is in the writings of Tertullian, from North Africa, about the year 220 AD. Augustine, bishop in North Africa in 400 AD, had a nearly identical creed, and it was apparently standard in Gaul in 650 AD. The text generally accepted today was finalized during the 9t" century by Pirminius from Switzerland.
The Creed begins with a simple statement of faith in God, who is the powerful originator of everything. Most of the Creed is about Jesus Christ who was a real person in history. Jesus was born of a woman named Mary and executed under a Roman governor named Pilate. He was born, died and was buried, and yet he was divine‑‑conceived by the Holy Spirit, resurrected, ascended into heaven at a position of supreme power.
The early church deemphasized Jesus' earthly ministry and his miracles as the Creed focused more on Jesus' supernatural birth, His suffering, death and resurrection. He is the unique Son of God. These are of greater theological significance, and were therefore included in the statement of faith.
The phrase "He descended into hell" was not a part of the earliest forms of the Apostle's Creed. Irenaeus and Tertullian do not have this phrase; it was written as "He descended to the dead" and meant only that Jesus went to the grave, the "place" or "abode" of the dead.
The creedal statement "He descended to the dead" is of special interest, in part because it was later translated in the 9t" century as "He descended into hell." Some medieval theologians came up with elaborate theories about what Jesus did in hell, but this misses the original purpose of the phrase.
This is in agreement with Scripture, which says that Jesus rose from "the dead" as in Acts 4:10. Peter applied the words of Psalm 16 to Jesus: "You will not abandon me to the grave" ‑‑ to Hades, the realm of the dead. When Jesus was dead, he was in Hades. Some believe he was conscious, and others believe he was not, but either way, he was in Hades, the place or abode of the dead.
Some churches are troubled by the phrase "He descended into hell" because it was mistranslated from the original "He descended to the dead." Some denominations have eliminated the phrase, "He descended into hell" altogether since it was not in the original formulations of the Creed and is a point of disagreement in the church. Other church traditions have changed it to its original phraseology, "He descended to the dead."
One other point of contention is with regard to the words "holy catholic church." The word catholic comes from the Greek meaning "according to the whole," or in actual use, worldwide or universal. The word catholic became part of the Creed before "catholic" became associated with the Roman church. In the Creed, we do not express faith in a specific denomination, but in the church worldwide ‑ that is, the holy Christian church, as there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, united by God's Spirit.