02 March 2014

Sacred Heart, Livingston, Montana

Livingston’s Congregational Church boasts some interesting and beautifully rendered windows. Several center panels bear the signature “Charles”; his art works hand in hand with the pastor's words, provoking souls to pause and ponder.

Fortunately for me - and for you! -, the motif pictured is dear to Amanda Neufeld, the first of my lovely nieces, who graces today's post in the following guest-blog.  Enjoy.

Hearts, crosses, and anchors. Images often seen in ink faded from black to green on time-worn skin. Among pinup girls and tributes to mothers, or on the distended forearms of a spinach crazed sailor man (toot toot), these symbols so ubiquitous that one can easily forget what it is they symbolize. Seen here, however, backlit by a snowy Sunday morning, some of their sacredness seems restored. 

A Sacred Heart glows with a flame that seems gentle and inviting, a fire that burns with Holy love, that refines what it touches. Why?  "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). As a people, we are raw, unable to purify ourselves, and, thankfully, not required to. The Cross, seen so often that it can be overlooked. So simple a symbol, and yet, "the intersecting lines mark a center, from which a radiance or life itself flows outward. The cross of Christ, like the tree of life, became the center of the world." 
And the anchor. I love the anchor. The catacombs of the early church are illustrated with images of anchors that predate the use of the cross to symbolize Christianity. It can't just be a coincidence, the similarity of the Greek word for anchor, "ankura," and the Greek phrase en kurio ("in the Lord"). "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (Hebrews 6:19)

I think I might need to add an anchor to my tattoos, not carrying on a nautical tradition, or in homage to everyone's favourite squinting sailor. A reminder of the generations who used secret symbols to share their faith, who spoke without speaking of the Lord they loved and in Whom they lived. Or I could spend more time admiring stained glass windows.


  1. The windows in this church are truly lovely and you captured the beauty of this one. I like the guest blog, as well.

  2. Thanks Cyndy,
    We were blessed to have you worship with us. Thanks for the beautiful pictures of the church, and the blog post. I enjoy your writing. Hope you can come back often.

    1. Thanks, Pastor Durgan. We also loved the old illustrated bible in the library, and Jeremiah's custom art tour.

  3. What a perfect commentary - I learned something. Thanks Amanda. Enjoyed sharing your exploratory adventure.


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