I confess that when my good friend, Roger Ernst, first suggested that St. Paul restore the murals that adorned her walls in the first part of the 20th century, my heart was NOT strangely warmed. I thought: oh, how sad to lose the Trinity!
Because if you walked into St. Paul's last Sunday and for any year since sometime in the 1970's, you would have seen the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit before your eyes (the Father and Spirit merely suggested, of course, being themselves indepictable). But that changed this week. Now there is nothing upon the front walls. By the end of this week, however, the Good Shepherd will adorn the south wall and Our Lord knocking at the door the north wall.
These images, though, invite us deeper than ever into the Holy Sacraments. There is little dispute that the image of the Good Shepherd was a favorite in the baptistries of antiquity. Danielou writes: "In the primitive Church, this symbolism was brought out by the decoration of the baptistries. Here we usually found Christ represented as the Good Shepherd surrounded by His sheep in a paradisal setting of trees, flowers, and fountains." (The Bible and the Liturgy, p. 36). Now the image of the Good Shepherd holding the lamb will be directly above our baptismal font.
And as for the Lord, knocking at the door, we have only to remember the rest of the verse: "And I will come in and sup with him and he with Me!" It is Eucharistic through and through. Binding the two images together is the Table. Psalm 23 speaks of the table set in the presence of my enemies. Revelation 3 speaks of supping together. So between the two images at St. Paul's stands the holy altar, the table at which our Lord feeds us His body and blood.
In short, I've swung round to Roger's way of thinking - and to that of the first artists who decorated the St. Paul nave. As soon as the new murals are up, I'll post some pics. We'll bless them on Saturday evening with the rite for blessing of sacred art included in the LSB Agenda.