A small, white, country church from the street, Faith Lutheran opens up another world of artistry and imagination when one walks through the doors. Standing in the very middle of the worship space one is completely surrounded by murals designed in 1993 by noted liturgical artist Richard Caemmerer. The paintings, painted by the members of Faith, depict the life of Jesus and the story of humankind as it has been touched by the Divine. Through color and image the entire redemption story is depicted and enfolds the worshipper in the love and mercy of God.
The original reason for painting the murals on the interior of the church was to create an environment in keeping with the traditional Bavarian churches, and thereby connecting to the village of Leavenworth and its Bavarian art. As the project developed, the theme of the art became more closely wedded to Faith... the church's name rather than its location. So the motifs depicted all relate to the articles of faith. In essence, through imaginative and vivid images, the worshipper is reminded visually of the "why" we come to worship in this sanctuary.
The Front Chancel Area
Blue, which is the color of the advent season, is prominent. The gold Cross behind the altar is central. If there were stasis, which is the partition in Orthodox churches separating the seating area (and worshippers) from the “inner” altar ( only for priests). this would be it. But as Lutherans focusing on grace and not the law, the altar area is inviting and open.
Front Left Panel and Center
Begins with the conception of Mary, the Gold Ray (a common motif) extends from Heaven through Christ. Joseph is paled in the background. Light eminates from Mary, embracing the womb, she has become transparent. This then leads to Jesus’ Baptism, standing in the water. Blue is a recurring theme in ancient murals. The Ark is a fore sign, so too, the Rainbow. Jesus enters into the water, under which is the Spiral, the universal sign of rebirth and regeneration - common in Medieval manuscripts. For us, it is resurrection and new life. As Christ comes out of the water, the spiral rises recalling ongoing new birth. All this under the auspices, the wings, the presence of the Holy Spirit, a flowing image of a dove.
Front Right Panel
The focus is the Crucifixion, the Chalice, and the Host which is before Christ, who is hung on a cross. Again, one can see the gold beam Passing through Christ who is bleeding into the chalice, a very typical Medieval expression, this one taken from the altar piece of the church in Eisenheim, Germany, at Grünewald. This front section tells us of the redemption story. This in turn has transfigured all of humankind and creation. The large Blue Circle (upper right) with bright gold spots is the traditional art expression of the Tranfiguration. Now we see how this has transfigured not just humankind (right side of church), but creation as well (left side).
Everything now, from the front backwards to the rear, is the story of humankind as it has been touched by the Divine. We begin with the transfiguration of Creation. This may be seen as a “melody” just behind the piano, the five lines ( seen along both sides) are the treble and bass clefts of music. These are seen all the way to the end, even in lower center, with “notes”. The right side will also reflect this continuing theme. Creation transfigured in a very specific way beneath the musical clefts, in the gradual changing of the blue Advent Drops of water to the purple wine of Lent. This element of wine reminds us of the communion cup found on the front right side, tying the two together and encompassing, bracketing, the redemption story. Then begins the life-giving River, full of Fish and life giving sustenance. It flows from front to back, eventually displaying a boat with mast. Above this flowing blue, are the Mountains embraced in spring and summer colors. Creation also longs for and moves toward the final redemption, which is encountered on the back wall.
This important scene is again very typical of Christian art; the Final Judgment, with Christ seated in the center. Taken from Matthew 25 and Revelation, Christ separates the goats from the sheep. Christ is sitting in the Circle filled with the color of blue, life giving and anticipatory. The artist has chosen to focus on the Saints (omitting the goats), arrayed in white, surrounding the throne, and now in the “next” and final etertiny, symbolized again by the Spiral. This eternal symbol also takes us back to its appearance at Christ’s baptism on the front panel. Proceeding from the “throne” is Red flowing to the floor, a subtle, yet vivid representation of eternal separation from God.
The crucifixion moves the eye to the right, highlighting a central event which leads up to Christ’s death: the feeding of the multitude, represented by the Loaves and Fishes. This is on a path which continues backward, again moving towards the final judgment. As the left side of the sanctuary images Creation’s redemption, this right side portrays redemption of Humankind. Along this path, surrounded by fall and winter Mountains emblazoned with bright Autumn colors, are signs that speak of the presence of the Reign of God (golden rays, musical strands) in our midst, all moving toward the promise of the final redemption, the second coming of Jesus located on the back wall. Signs include the Lame being healed and the Prison Bars being broken, each touched with that golden ray, the Divine entering human lives and history.
The ceiling completes our mural. It must be said that murals are common in almost all Bavarian churches. A typical ceiling represents paradise, not simply the sky. The blue with stars in our sanctuary represents that promise which awaits us. The stars, whose bright beginnings in the center are gradually changed to deeper tones of gold, gradually disappear into the blue heavens.