History of the Wooden Mosaics at St. John
The wooden mosaics covering the side walls in the sanctuary of St. John Lutheran Church were created by a Lutheran pastor, J. Daniel Diekhoff, of Charlestown, IN. These inlaid works of art were done using 25-30 varieties of natural woods and no stains. This project began in 1985 and was completed in 1988.
The interpretations of each mosaic were written by Pastor Diekhoff. The successive portrayals of episodes in Jesus' life can most easily be followed by beginning at the left rear of the sanctuary, going forward and then returning to the right rear and going forward.
My Father's Business
The boy Jesus in the temple is surrounded by teachers and learners. Education is like that for all ages. The high priest in the background shows concern because he is learning something new from a young boy. That new information may require him to re-evaluate what he thinks he knows. But Jesus also is a learner. He subjected himself to the authority of his parents, but also to his Father in Heaven that he might grow in the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord.
The Commission of Peter
Matthew 4:18-20, 16:18-19
Jesus called Peter to become an evangelist. For Peter, that meant leaving behind a vocation with which he was familiar and probably successful in as well. The shepherd's staff is a symbol of that ministry because it suggests discipline as well as compassion and deliverance. The shepherd's staff could be used to guide as well as rescue a lamb that has strayed. The figures in the background remind us of the many unknown evangelists who cared enough about the gospel of Jesus Christ...to share.
Blessed are the Poor
This specific theme is taken from the sermon on the mountain where Jesus sought to bless people in a variety of circumstances. The obvious poor in the center of the picture are only part of the story. What does such a blessing mean to the rich? Perhaps a better question is, "Doesn't each one of us come to hear the preacher Jesus because we have a poverty of our own?" Our poverty may be one of material goods, spirit, emotion, or being unloved. That poverty is understood by Christ, and his adjacent promises are just as real as his compassionate understanding.
Lest as a Child
This mural is a play on the idea of a generation gap. For our Lord, there is no such thing except on a spiritual level. He suggests that we cannot be part of the kingdom of God unless we are as children. We also know that it takes a very mature adult to understand such a complex idea. The precariously standing child is guarded by parents as well as our Lord. The trust of the child is a symbol of faith, while the impatient adult in the far background fails to see the significance of the attention that Jesus gives to children.
Transfer of Authority
The theological motif of this mosaic is reflected in the background as well as the figures that are shown. The movement is from left to right as we proceed from repentance to new life. The barrenness of the land on the left gives way to a tree of life. The repentant sinner wades his way
upstream towards John the Baptist. But John is not portrayed as baptizing Jesus because that is not the central focus of the New Testament. We need to be reminded of John's function which the scriptures more accurately portray than most artists. John is the one who once was given authority to minister, lead, baptize, and more; but now, he points away from himself to transfer authority in Christ. John has disciples of his own who have chosen to follow him because he was a good teacher and healer of the weaknesses of mankind. Now the time has come for him to guide his own disciples to one of the best examples of Christian education for all of us...knowing how and when to guide others away from us and show them someone greater than ourselves.
Know My Suffering
How many kinds of suffering are there in the world? The challenge of this mosaic was to portray the healing ministry of Jesus without making it unbelievable. The healing ministry of Jesus is believable when it happens to you. It may not even be you personally, but someone close to you who experiences deliverance from pain, anxiety, or sorrow. When you have known healing, you can identify with each person in this mural. You may
even have pity for those who do not believe. .
Conversion of Saul
"Why Saul?" That kind of question stops all of us in our tracks and forces us to rethink our purpose and methods. The blinding light of Jesus' revelation often shows us the darkness of our own understanding. All of us, like Saul
(later Paul), must be open to the truth about ourselves and willing to change our direction completely. Like Saul, our best intentions are not good enough. Nor are they an excuse, because the most important thing for Paul's world and for ours is that people be led to Christ and not away from him