Ship of Fools: Mt Zion Lutheran, Peoria, Arizona, USA

imageShip of Fools: Mt Zion Lutheran, Peoria, Arizona, USA

Friendly people, no nonsense liturgy – and a big surprise!

Read the full Mystery Worshipper report here


  • I’m going to guess that the snake on the cross in one of the stained glass windows is a reference to Numbers 21:6–9:

    “Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.”

    Jesus refers to this when he is talking to Nicodemus (John 3:14–17):

    “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
    “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
    “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

    The earliest seal (early 1800s) of the General Assembly Presbyterian Church in the USA used the snake lifted up on a cross in the wilderness as the central motif. It’s quite possible that the the pole with a snake in Numbers bears some kinship to the rod of Asclepius.

    As for the yellow globe with the diagonal bar, you’ve got me.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    You know your Bible better than I do, my friend! :smiley:

    There's a good photo of the windows here on the church's website.
  • Ha! I don’t know about that. I know this one because, as I said, the snake-cross motif figured on Presbyterian seals in America from an early time. (See here for an example, though this design dates from the early 1800s, not 1891 as suggested at the link.) It’s the kind of design and symbolism that I find really interesting, especially when viewed in a wider context, like, as I noted, the rod of Asclepius.

    As for the other window, it looks like an orb (globus cruciger), perhaps atop a scepter.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    If it's a globus cruciger, it's certainly a minimalist one. I would have preferred a more detailed window, eliminating guesswork. I was not able to discover the history of this particular congregation, but if there are Danish roots then that would explain the window.
  • The LC-MS is primarily of German background, I think.

    Yes, it is minimalist. But then, the overall style of the church seems to be modern and simple/minimalist. Gothic or Victorian/Tiffany-style stained glass would be out of place, I’m guessing.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    What a quick turnaround from visit to publication! Thank you muchly.

    A wonderful report, and I enjoyed the reveal of the role of your neighbour.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    With the new software, I try to publish reports the same day they are received, or the next day at the latest. There is no longer any incentive to let reports accumulate and publish them in batches.

    (Of course it helps if the report is my own.)
  • Thank you for worshiping with us. Your report provides some real objective insights and observations into how we come across to visitors. I am sure will help us improve. So, seriously, thank you.

    As to the stained glass windows: yes the one of the snake does refer to the book of Numbers and thus to the gospel of John; it is a kind of symbolic shorthand to John 3:16. The other is actually intended to be a scepter symbolizing Christ the King. These were all done by one of our members and, while not professional, were a work of love.

    We do have coffee and "goodies" in the other building after worship. Thanks for pointing out that we need to let visitors know this.

    And, yes, the pastor (me) does tend to talk rapidly at times. I'll continue to work on this and see if I can't slow down a little bit more. Thanks for the pointer about holding on to the pulpit. I’ll work on that, too.

    Again, thank you for a fair evaluation. We shall put it to good use. The Lord be with you.
  • And also with you, Pastor!

    O how I wish that more pastors/priests etc. receiving MW Reports about their churches would give such positive feedback! I'm sure Miss Amanda would be delighted, even if she had to call for her smelling salts....
  • Just a PS to say that my late father was a doctor and his "doctor's parking permit" had the snake-and-cross motif on it to show that it had officially been issued by the British Medical Association who licence all doctors in the UK. Even today their logo is a stylised version of this:
  • venbedevenbede Shipmate
    The snake winding round a staff is the symbol of Asclepius, surely, rather than a Christian symbol?
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    edited February 7
    Wrong thread.
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