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Berea Chancel Triptych

Written by | December, 2010
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Berea Lutheran Church, CLC
Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

The main focus of Berea’s worship area is the triptych above the altar. The triptych’s design is intended to draw our attention to the cross. The design of all other chancel items is intended to support this emphasis on the cross.

Berea Lutheran Church, Chancel TriptychOur Lord Jesus described himself as Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8). The side panels represent this, with large Alpha and Omega characters. Everything we need for our life and salvation is encompassed between them.

Jesus also referred to Himself as the Way (John 14:6). The central panel depicts a road (way) in the same burgundy color as the sacristy aisle, leading us visually to the foot of the cross. The area on either side of this road is shaded in earth colors. The Way leads us though earthly life to the cross and our salvation.

Above the horizon, blue sky shades from light and bright to very dark, symbolizing our inability to see beyond earthly life. Thin brass “firmament” lines stretch across the three panels, representing this separation. A brass circle set behind the cross symbolizes eternity.

The chancel’s triptych solves acoustical and design problems. Due to the shape of the sanctuary, the best placement of speakers for the public address and organ systems is directly above the altar. The three colored panels are made of dyed silk. This silk material is acoustically transparent and visually opaque. It hides the speakers, while allowing sound to pass through. The triptych’s cross and brass symbols were placed to avoid interference with the projection of sound, while maintaining visual balance.

Triptychs have been used since the time of early Christianity. A triptych is a work of art consisting of three painted or carved panels. The center panel is often larger than the side panels. Some were hinged and used as portable altars. Architecturally, the term indicates a design consisting of three panels, or niches, associated with an altar.

(We thank Berea Lutheran Church for this instructive description of its triptych. We invite and welcome similar articles from our CLC churches which happen to have colored windows, mosaics, or other special designs with religious significance. Please send along a photograph as well as a brief description. Thank you! – Editor)

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