The "I Am" Mosaic
The first thing visitors see as they enter the nave for worship is the outstanding artwork called “The Great ‘I Am’ Mosaic” which features many of Christ’s statements recorded in John’s Gospel to help His disciples understand who He is. Peter Lodochy of Cayucos, California designed and then fabricated the 12’ x 15’ artwork from some 25 to 30,000 bits of glass. It was installed two days before Dedication Day on May 31, 1998. The Greek words on the book in Christ’s hand translates: “I Am” and is taken from the opening words of John 14:6: " Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
The baptismal font and lectern are located in the chancel area to the left as viewed from the pew. The large pieces of North Dakota-quarried granite mounted on the floor are in the shape of a Latin cross. They anchor the font and Baptismal candle, representing Christ the Light of the World. The cross on the front of the four foot candle, (the original height with a weight of eleven pounds.), has the Greek letters mentioned in the New Testament (Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), which signify the beginning and the end - our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the World. When a newly baptized baby goes home with a miniature candle to remember the new birth, everyone learns how our enlightenment comes ONLY from Him. In the first thirty days after the Font was dedicated, six souls had been baptized and become part of the body of Christ. The baptismal bowl commissioned for Grace’s new sanctuary was done as a set of two by artist Kenyon Thomas and differ slightly from each other in design and color. The second bowl was an unexpected gift from him. There is a formed sea shell in the interior bottom, a symbol of baptism, and an angel and dove motif on the inside. The exterior has eight crosses, which in ancient times represented the birth of the entire universe in six days as Genesis teaches, plus the day God “rested”, plus the eighth signifying the beginning of the new creation because of the work of Christ. If you would like to see the other bowl, ask a member of the Altar Guild and you may examine it closely. Study the chancel furnishings making up the baptismal area. Notice the “bridge” railing which unites the baptismal font and the lecturn from which God’s Word is read. This shows the connection of baptism to the Word. The font and water bowl are anchored on the four Gospels, shown as orbs representing the “all nations” of the planet earth in Christ’s last command to His followers as He ascended into heaven.
The beautiful top slab of alter granite called the mesa (table) weighs around two tons alone, not counting the other pieces making up the altar. It is named Dakota Mahogany and was quarried in South Dakota. It has five sets of small quadruple squares which outline a Greek cross where all of the “arms” are of equal length. You can see a much larger size of this on the floor in front of the altar. The five sets mark the five wounds Christ suffered on the cross which are sometimes referred to as the “stigmata.” Also, the granite in front of the altar is in the shape of the tau cross. The candle holders were designed by the same artist who did the stained glass. The colors chosen are to signify Christ's blood, shed for all of us. It is worth the time to closely examine the altar cloth lovingly hand woven on her own loom by one of our members. Looking closely, you will see the tiny crosses on the top side. Gently turn over an end and you will see the same weave as a butterfly, a Christian symbol of the new Life in Christ.
When the Arts Committee first asked Albuquerque artist, Byron Wickstrom to come up with a design, it turned out to be something quite unexpected, but at the same time Biblically sound. Usually, a Trinity reredos ( from the Anglo-French words “arrere” meaning “behind”, plus “dos” meaning “back” and is mostly used to refer to the wall behind and in back of the altar.), might be three joined panel carvings, one for each person of the Trinity, or that all were represented separately on one large panel. It took a few minutes for Byron’s concept to “sink in” because some were waiting for the other “two” designs after seeing the clay model of Jesus Christ, the Son. When the “light” turned on, the committee saw one unified theme; not part of a panel, but the symbols used in Scripture as the “eye” of God the Father-Creator, the fire and flames of the Holy Spirit, and the risen ascending figure of Christ. His head rests in the “apple of the eye” of the Father who looks at His fallen creation through the work and merits of His only begotten Son, and sees them as “perfect” and “restored” so they can live with Him forever, as He originally intended before sin came into the world. The flames of the Holy Spirit become Christ’s symbolic covering since it is He alone who gives us the power to believe and calls and invites us to do so. Notice also, that Jesus points to the empty cross below, which is part of the whole sculpture, and to heaven above, signifying that He is the path to His Father. The sculpture is a good discussion starter on the main mission of the Church - to tell everyone how and what God has done to bring reconciliation and redemption to every single person who has ever been born, and those still to be born. When you can explain the sculpture, you can understand and tell others what the true Gospel message is. It does not escape our attention that not a single created human being is in the view. It shows only what God, the Holy Trinity, has done and continues to do for us.
It is hard to realize that the two pieces of polished granite that hold up the wood desk of the pulpit, which were quarried in the mountains of South Dakota, weigh 900 pounds each! That does not include the smaller pieces making up the entire pulpit. What a solid foundation from where the Word of God, which is our foundation, may be preached.
The processional cross stands adjacent to the altar when not in use. It was made by the same New Mexican metal worker who did the other metal work in our sanctuary. The glass work was done in Scottsdale, AZ by the same studio where the stained glass windows were made. The glass art in the cross must be seen closely at an angle to allow you to see the figure of Christ. You can make out the marks of the wounds in red and the yellow serum (“water”) which flowed from His side at the bite of the spear. He is shown in all of His activity: His passion and suffering, glorious resurrection, ascension departure, arms of invitation to “come unto” Him, and His triumphal return at the close of world history. It is easy to "Lift High the Cross" when all of these events are remembered.