Kneeler 1: Creation
Design and needlepoint by Margaret Petrey
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11 (KJV)
Symbol #1: Waves with Sun and Dove
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1–2 (KJV)
The Bible opens with a wondrous depiction of the Holy Trinity. God the Creator of all (symbolized by the waters of creation) speaks existence by His mighty Word (symbolized by the sun, shining in its strength) and guides the worlds to completion by the presence of His Holy Ghost (symbolized by the hovering Dove).
From the very beginning of the cosmos, as St. Paul wrote to the Romans, the Creator is revealed in that which He has created (Romans 1:20).
Symbol #2: Apple Tree in Nimbus
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden. Genesis 2:9 (KJV)
The Tree of Life is the formal beginning of the Sacraments with which God will nourish His creatures. Just as Wine and Bread now communicate Christ Jesus to us in the Eucharist, so in the Garden, the Tree of Life communicated the divine nature to our first parents.
The second person of the Trinity, God the Son, was manifest through the Tree of Life. The great loss in the fall from Eden was access to the Tree of Life. The great news of the Gospel is restoration to that source of life.
Symbol #3: Noah's Ark with Rainbow
God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 1 St. Peter 3:20–21 (KJV)
Noah's Ark is more than a lovely children's story. It is the story of the Church, which is the Ark into which we flee against the day of judgment. All who are inside her gates will be saved through the waters.
The lovely rainbow is an awesome reminder to mankind and to God. In Revelation we learn that this rainbow encircles the throne of Christ. He cannot look at us from heaven without seeing us colored by the promise signified by that bow. He will not destroy; He will save.
Kneeler 2: Covenant
Design by Margaret Petrey, needlepoint by Marie Johnson
By Myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice. Genesis 22:16–18 (KJV)
Symbol #1: Ancient Tree on the Plains of Mamre
And the Lord appeared unto him [Abraham] in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: Genesis 18:1–4 (KJV)
Beneath the Mamre Tree, God the Holy Trinity brought the message of hope and a future to Abraham and Sarah. God would bless them through the birth of a son, an only son, named Isaac. It was through this baby boy that we first heard the news that God would one day provide a sacrifice for our sins.
Symbol #2: Lantern with Three Candles in Nimbus
And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces [of the sacrifice]. In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram: Genesis 15:17–18 (KJV)
Before the encounter at Mamre, God called Abram into covenant with Himself. He ordered sacrifices to be laid out on the ground, and when all was prepared, God came down from heaven, and appeared in the form of a smoking lantern, to ratify the covenant He was making.
The one lantern reminds us that there is only one God who makes covenant with man. The three interior lights remind us that the one Holy God is three united persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Symbol #3: Ram in the Thorn Bush
And Abraham said, My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. Genesis 22:8, 13 (KJV)
Abraham's faithfulness to offer Isaac, his only son, as a sacrifice in obedience to God is one of the pivotal moments in the history of mankind. With the knife raised, Abraham was stopped by an Angel; a ram was provided for the sacrifice. For centuries mankind waited for God to provide His own sacrifice for sin. The wait ended when John the Baptist saw Jesus and cried, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." St. John 1:29 (KJV)
Kneeler 3: Salvation
Design by Margaret Petrey, needlepoint by Glenda Dobson
And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. Exodus 19:18–19 (KJV)
Symbol #1: Serpent on Pole
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. St. John 3:14–15 (KJV)
In the Garden of Eden, that old serpent Satan first sank his fangs into the human race and poisoned our parents with deadly sin. In the desert after Egypt, the people of God were bitten by serpents as a sign that they had once again been poisoned by sin and death in their grumbling against God.
But God is always merciful, He provided a miraculous way to escape, nailing the symbol of death to wood and condemning death to die. The medicine is won by faith; merely looking to God's salvation saves.
Symbol #2: Holy Mountain with Flash of Lightning in Nimbus
Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. St. Matthew 17:1–6 (KJV)
On the mountain of God, Moses and Elijah proclaimed Jesus Christ as Lord. Once we listened to the Law written on tablets of stone; now we listen to the greater voice of Jesus Christ the beloved Son of God.
Symbol #3: Scapegoat
And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with Him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.Leviticus 16:8–10 (KJV)
The scapegoat is, in many ways, the clearest of symbols of Christ. For thousands of years, the people of God acted out the drama of salvation, placing their sins upon a sacrifice and casting it into outer darkness. This drama was fulfilled in reality when Christ Jesus took our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21), and we cast Him into the darkness of the grave.
Kneeler 4: Sustenance
Design by Margaret Petrey, needlepoint by Marie Johnson
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst. St. John 6:35 (ESV)
Symbol #1: Wheat and Bread
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man's heart. Psalm 104:14–15 (ESV)
God is the source of all things. Every blessing is a direct result of His divine care and providence. By His own power and mercy, He creates and sustains the cosmos and everything that is in it. As Jesus said, even the lowly sparrow falls under the watchful protection of the Lord. No detail of life, however small, mundane, or menial falls outside the watchful care of God. Even something so simple as the grass of the field, and the bread that comes from it, is the direct gift of God to provide for our life and health. How fitting that our Lord Jesus, in humbling Himself with human flesh, should take so humble a creature as bread and transform it into the sacrament of His Body.
Symbol #2: Three Fish in Nimbus
They enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." St. Luke 5:6–8 (ESV)
Jesus chose fishermen as His disciples, preached and performed miracles from fishing boats, pulled coins from the mouth of fish, fed multitudes with a boy's lunch of fish, and revealed Himself as the resurrected Christ during a Eucharist celebrated after a breakfast of fish. The Church used the symbol of the three fish to represent the great and Holy Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—Who will supply all our needs.
Symbol #3: Grapes and Wine
Go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. Deuteronomy 14:25–26 (ESV)
If God provides the simple things, such as bread and fish, He also provides the richest of gifts, such as "fine wine." Its lush flavors, extravagant luxury, and "joyful intoxicating effect" are gifts from God as well. And we ought not to be surprised that our Savior also took up this lavish symbol and blessed it to be the Sacrament of His Blood (St. Matthew 26:26–29).
God's Gospel is good news, encompassing the humblest elements but soaring to the loftiest heights of pleasure, goodness, and joy.
Kneeler 5: Sacrifice
Design by Margaret Petrey, needlepoint by Carol Couch
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God Who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" Revelation 7:9–10 (ESV)
Symbol #1: Eucharist Table
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:16–17 (ESV)
On the night before Christ was arrested, He set a table for His disciples. With the bread and wine of that table, He instituted the Holy Eucharist as an everlasting Sacrament of His sacrifice. Since that moment, the Eucharistic Table has stood at the center of all Christian worship. All Christian theology, philosophy, art, culture, mission, and imagination proceed from and return to the Eucharistic Table, because it is this world's participation in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Symbol #2: Sacrificial Lamb on Altar in Nimbus
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." St. John 1:29, 34 (ESV)
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, though completed in time two thousand years ago, is nevertheless an eternal sacrifice. In the Revelation given to St. John, in which the Apostle sees heaven outside of time, Jesus appears as a Lamb, still slain or being slain, as He has been since the foundation of the world. It was always God's plan to offer His Son for our sake. Now, even in heaven, He still lives to make intercession for us, as He will throughout all eternity. When we grasp this image, our hearts must cry, "Thanks be to God!"
Symbol #3: Scroll
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things. Hebrews 1:1–2 (ESV)
And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll . . . , and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll. . . . I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain. . . . And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. . . . And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the scroll . . . , for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God . . . , and they shall reign on the earth." Revelation 5:2–4, 6, 8–10 (ESV)
Kneeler 6: Sufficiency
Design and needlepoint by Margaret Petrey
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:3 (KJV)
Symbol #1: Pelican
Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto Thee. Hide not Thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline Thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily. My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin. I am like a pelican of the wilderness. Psalm 102:1–2, 4–6 (KJV)
In ancient times, it was believed that during times of famine, or when trapped in the wilderness, the pelican would save the life of its chicks by plucking its feathers and providing its own blood for sustenance. Thus the pelican in the wilderness reminds us of our Savior Christ Who, finding us in the desperate wilderness of sin, shed His own blood and rescued our lives from the grave.
Symbol #2: Fountain in Nimbus
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Revelation 7:17 (ESV)
As the preeminent symbol of the life that comes from God, water has been a part of every portion of salvation history: the waters of creation, the Flood of Noah, the river Jordan, the Sea of Galilee, the Samaritan woman at the well, and Holy Baptism, wherein we are washed from sin and granted new life in God's church. In John's Revelation, we are told of a fountain in heaven, flowing from the throne of God. That fountain is the source of a river that grows into a sea until it covers the whole world, thus symbolizing the Gospel filling the earth with life until all the world belongs to Christ and His church.
Symbol #3: Peacock
Gavest Thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? Job 39:13a (KJV)
He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4 (ESV)
In the Scriptures, God is compared to a mother, whose love for her young is unshakable. He is compared to a hen, who shelters her chicks under her wings.
It is no surprise then that when we imagine God, covering His church with His feathered wings, we see Him as the mighty and glorious peacock, arrayed in splendor and excellence and crowned with glory round about.
Kneeler 7: Kingdom
Design by Margaret Petrey, needlepoint by Sylvia Ashman
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Psalm 24:7–8 (ESV)
Symbol #1: Palm Trees
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and He sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" St. Matthew 21:6–9 (ESV)
The Palm tree is a rich symbol of God's providence and presence. On the great Palm Sunday, the people waved their branches in celebration of the arrival of God made flesh, Jesus Christ. The cries of "Hosanna!" and the waving of Palm continue to this day each Palm Sunday, because God is drawing near.
Symbol #2: Pearly Gates in Nimbus
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels. . . . And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl.Revelation 21:10–13, 21 (ESV)
In ancient times a newly crowned leader would ride through the opened gates as a sign that the city belonged to him. Saint John described the Pearly Gates of the city of God, which Christ Jesus has possessed forever as its rightful ruler. Blessed are all those who follow Him through those sure, strong gates. All who enter these gates shall know true happiness and safety.
Symbol #3: Pomegranates
For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valley and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, Deuteronomy 8:7–8 (ESV)
The pomegranate was given by God to be a symbol of the Promised Land. The redness symbolizes the blood of the sacrifice; the many seeds represent the many children born of God's promise; the pithy rind represents the strong walls of the city of God. This luscious fruit is adorned with a crown, the symbol of the royal rule of God. The pomegranate was worn by priests, adorned the walls and pillars of the Tabernacle, and now symbolizes the richness of the reward that awaits all who find rest in God's holy city.
Kneeler 8: Consummation
Design by Margaret Petrey, needlepoint by Sylvia Ashman
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 2 Corinthians 5:1–2 (ESV)
Symbol #1: Wooden Door with Light
Be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. St. Luke 12:36 (ESV)
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20 (ESV)
The image of Christ knocking on the door was emblazoned on our consciousness by the artist Holman Hunt. There Jesus stands, robed in the simple glory of the resurrection, the lantern of His Holy Spirit illuminating the scene. His hand is raised to the door. We are invited to the wonderful contemplation of the joys and the blessedness that await those souls who answer the knock at the door—to open the door and find God incarnate. He is the bridegroom who has come to consummate all joy and goodness.
Symbol #2: New Jerusalem in the Clouds in Nimbus
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." Revelation 21:1–4 (ESV)
In that glorious place we shall see the most blessed and most holy Trinity: the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, one God reigning in splendor forever.
Symbol #3: Pear Tree
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7 (ESV)
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Revelation 22:14 (ESV)
The carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is said to be a catechism song. On the first day of Christmas, God, our true love, gives us a Partridge in a Pear Tree, Jesus Christ, the sacrifice Who restores our access to the fruit of the Tree of Life. What a worthy hope to know that the Tree of Life, though lost with Eden, still grows, bears its fruit, and awaits us in the Paradise of God.