1. Baptism – There are many forms of baptism, but whether it is by immersion or sprinkling, for an infant or adult, most Christian baptisms use water as a symbol of being washed clean of sin and renewed by the grace of God. Some ministers choose to use a seashell to scoop the water onto the person being baptized. The symbol of the seashell has been associated with baptism since the first centuries of the Christian church.
Dove – A dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, because it appeared over Jesus when he was baptized by John the Baptist: “. . . he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on him.” (Matthew 3:16 CEB) There are several references in the Bible to baptizing Christians with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist told his followers, “I baptize you with water, but he [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)
2. Anchor – Anchors are thrown overboard by sailors when they want their boat to stay in one place and not drift with the wind or current of the water. An anchor achieves this by “hooking” into the “bed” at the bottom of the water and/or by being very heavy and solid. They are usually made of iron and attached to the boat with a thick chain. Thus, the anchor was regarded as a symbol of safety and unwavering steadfastness. Early Christians adopted the anchor as a symbol of hope in future existence. For Christians, Christ is the unfailing hope of all who believe in him. The author of Hebrews says that God has sworn a promise of salvation to us and cannot lie; therefore, we “can be encouraged to grasp the hope that is lying in front of us. This hope, which is a safe and secure anchor for our whole being . . . .” (Hebrews 6:18-19)
Crown – Crowns are worn by royalty, symbolizing their right to rule. For Christians, a crown represents Jesus Christ as the heavenly King and the One whose authority we should obey. The crown also symbolizes eternal life, the reward of the faithful who believe in Christ. “Be faithful even to the point of death and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)
3. Alpha and Omega – The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet signifying that Jesus is the beginning and the end of all things, eternal. “’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘the one who is and was and is coming, the Almighty.’” (Revelation 1:8; 21:6 and 22:13) The New Testament was written in Greek, as it was the language of educated people across the world at that time, and the Alpha and Omega symbols were used in early Christianity. They are often depicted side-by-side, but on UCF’s window they are intertwined.
Celtic Cross – Because Jesus died upon a cross for us, crosses have become the most common symbol of Christianity and there are many variants. The one in United Church’s window features an interlaced pattern, a Celtic form of decoration. This cross also has a circle surrounding the intersection, making it a Celtic Cross, although the circle is usually more prominent in most Celtic crosses. Circles can represent a halo, the son, or eternity (because they have no beginning or end). Celts were people in northern Europe to whom Christianity was introduced around 450 A.D. Today, the term “Celtic” generally refers to the languages and respective cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and parts of Great Britain.
4. Lamp – This symbol portrays a type of lamp used in ancient times to burn olive oil for light. It is a similar lamp that Jesus refers to in his parable of the foolish bridesmaids who didn’t bring oil to refill their lamps (Matthew 25:1-13). There are many, many references in the Bible to light as a symbol for God, Jesus, or the Word of God. Sources of light and fire, such as lamps and candles, have become common symbols in Christianity:
“Your word is a lamp before my feet and a light for my journey.” (Psalm 119:105)
“Jesus spoke to the people again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12)
Trinity Knot – from the Latin triquetra (try-KET-ra), meaning “three-cornered.” The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit; “one God in three persons.” The three equal arcs of the triquestra symbol express eternity in their continuous form, indivisibly in their interweaving. At their center is a triangle, an ancient symbol for the Trinity, three beings of power, honor and glory, but indivisibly one God.
To see the West side symbols, click here.