Dear Friends and Members of Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church
The Luther Rose or Seal is the most widely recognized symbol for Lutheranism. It was the seal that was designed for Martin Luther at the request of the Saxon Elector John Frederick in 1530. It was always, however, more than a symbol. It colorfully and poignantly portrayed Luther’s theology. Luther wrote the following description from Coburg Castle on July 8th, 1530.
Since you ask whether my seal has come out correctly, I shall answer most amiably and tell you of those thoughts which now come to my mind about my seal as a symbol of my theology. There is first to be a cross, black, and placed in a heart, which should be of its natural color (red), to put me in mind that faith in Christ crucified saved us. For if one believes from the heart, he will be justified. Such a heart is to be in the midst of a white rose, to symbolize that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In a word, it places the believer into a white joyful rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy as the world gives. This rose, moreover, is fixed in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in the Spirit and in faith is a beginning of the future heavenly joy. It is already a part of faith, and is grasped through hope, even though not yet manifest. And around this field is a golden ring, to signify that such bliss in heaven is endless, and more precious than all joys and goods, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.
Nine years ago, in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the United Lutheran Churches in Germany decided to create a new living monument. They believed it wasn’t necessary to erect yet another statue, so instead, they decided to create a living garden of 500 trees reaching out from the Luther Rose. The photo above is a picture of the garden looking down along paths lined with hundreds of trees. The paths go out in all directions, of coursing depicting the movement of Protestantism which has now reached every continent. More importantly, I believe that Luther would state that it is Jesus Christ, at the center of the heart and rose, that has gone out to reach the ends of the earth.
It is an important reminder to the Lutheran Church today. For this is ultimately the Protestant heritage. The good news which Martin Luther rediscovered and celebrated was the saving grace of Jesus Christ freely given for all.