After 25 years, it was decided St Peter’s Lutheran College Chapel vestments needed renewal. Making new vestments to support the ministry of St Peter’s Lutheran Church was a year long project, beginning with the Easter season in 2021 and finishing with the Lenten season in 2022.
Clare Seligmann, a member of the St Peters congregation, designed and crafted the vestments – a very generous and truly wonderful gift to the congregation.
This is an explanation of the symbolism displayed in the Vestments, in Clare’s own words.
Purpose of the vestments
The vestments are designed to aid worship in a number of ways. The colour reminds us of the church season and what that represents. The symbols and pictures on the vestments provide a visual aid to help worshippers understand some of the themes of the church seasons. It is also hoped this gives a focus for contemplation and meditation. They are not sacred in themselves and if they cease to be useful or relevant, it is appropriate for them to be removed or replaced.
The Advent set has a purple background indicating the seasonal colour and that we are in a period of waiting and preparation. The expectant Mary is depicted on her journey to Bethlehem, but also on her journey from teenage girl, expecting a normal life and marriage, to Mother of God, which took her life in an entirely different direction. The Advent star indicates God’s guidance and sign for where to find the incarnate son of God. The three purple streams represent the holy trinity and the journeys of Mary and Joseph; the shepherds; the wise men; the beginning of Jesus’ journey to the cross and our journey.
The Christmas set is white with gold accents indicating the Christmas season. There is consistency in Mary’s clothes to show this is the next stage of her journey. This set depicts the Christmas story, showing the birth of Jesus in the stable with the star guiding the location. The angel is announcing the good news of the birth of the Saviour to the shepherds in the fields with their sheep. The three gold streams represent the Holy Trinity and the journey of Mary and Joseph; the shepherds; the beginning of Jesus’ journey as a man and our journey.
The Lenten set is purple to indicate the seasonal colour and to depict a time of waiting and preparation. This set depicts service, sacrifice, suffering and death. The jug, bowl and towel represent Jesus washing the disciples’ feet as an act of service and servanthood. The broken bread and the spilled wine represent both the institution of Holy Communion at the last supper and Jesus body broken for us, and his blood poured out for us. These two are meant to be visually contemplative consistent with Lent as a time of preparation and thinking about our response to Jesus’ sacrifice. The three purple streams indicate the Holy Trinity, Jesus’ journey to the cross and our journey. The third one has Good Friday themes with the three crosses of the crucifixion at Golgotha and the thorny vine representing the crown of thorns and suffering. The vine is made of three streams, consistent with the Holy Trinity. The colours are dark, and it is intended to be visually dissonant to make us uncomfortable and repentant but at the same time relieved and thankful that Jesus’ died in our place to save us from the judgement we deserve.
The Easter set is white with gold accents to indicate the seasonal colour and represents resurrection and new life. The empty cross and discarded grave cloths with the sunrise represent Jesus’ resurrection on the third day. The butterflies are a symbol of new life, having emerged from the cocoon, and joy indicated by the bright colours, which depict all the church seasons. The 3 gold streams represent the Holy Trinity and Jesus’ ascending journey.
Pentecost and Festival days
This set is red to mark Pentecost and is used on festival days. It is used for times of celebration and excitement. It depicts the flames on the disciples’ heads when they received the Holy Spirit and the dove often used to represent the Holy spirit.
The Green set is used for ‘ordinary time’. The green colour is symbolic of growth as are the grapevines and the wheat. Ordinary times are the seasons for teaching, growing in faith and service. The green colour also indicates peace. The set depicts the gifts of the sacraments of Baptism with water and baptismal bowl and Holy Communion represented by the grapes and the wheat. The grapes and wheat also represent God’s provision of daily bread for us both physically and spiritually. The three strands of the grapevine represent the Holy Trinity and God’s presence with us, even in ordinary times.