In 1968, the World Council of Church, an ecumenical organization of 340 churches from more the 120 countries gathered in Uppsala, Sweden for a general assembly. For the gathering the Swedish artist Olof Hellström created a sculpture he called the Tree of Atonement. It was a large metal tree with candles for branches which were lit during the time of prayer. The response to this new piece of religious art in the church was immense. In a short time, the tree of lights had evolved into a globe of lights, with Christ the light of the world, symbolically presented as the central light of the sculpture.
The purpose of the light globe is two-fold. First, it is part of a long ecumenical tradition which links lighting candles to offering prayers. Second, the globe itself represents a visual and symbolic expression of God’s kingdom bearing light in and around the world. In an increasingly secular world, churchgoers and curious visitors appreciated the opportunity of lighting a candle in the quiet of an empty church sanctuary during the weekdays. Within years, the use of the light globe in churches quickly spread across Scandinavia. People stop by churches all the time to offer prayers, to reflect and to light candles.
That same sort of secularization has caused many people in America today to search for new forms of meditation as well. Our location along the lake, as well as our beautiful building attract many curious visitors. The question has always been how to offer a welcoming, spiritual open door and sanctuary for those who stop by throughout the week. The new light globe given as a gift by Mary Sabatke and family in memory of Bruce Sabatke is timely. It was shipped from Denmark and just arrived at church. It will be used as a centerpiece for the UN International Day of Peace observance. We will find ways to use it as a part of our regular Sunday worship service, as well as a place where visitors are welcome to meditate throughout the working hours of the week.
The light globe will be blessed as a part of our All Saints Sundayworship service on Sunday, November 3rd, a day before Bruce’s birthday. The church choir will perform Haydn’s Missa Brevisfor the worship service.