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Bethlehem Luther Rose

Bethlehem member Freda Lovejoy, left, discusses the Lego Luther Rose with the Rev. Gary Hedding. It measures about 48 inches across. Project information and directions are available at

Members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls gathered recently to honor church history by playing with Legos.

Yes, really.

About 70 people, ages 4 to 94, spent 90 minutes chatting, talking and working together to assemble a massive Luther Rose in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

The group used project plans and directions created by Mike Ripley and Suzanne Eaton of St. John Lutheran Church in Sudbury, Mass., says the Rev. Gary Hedding.

“We’ll have it on display here at the church through Reformation Day,” he explains. “After that, we’ll make it available for other churches who want to put it together.”

The Lego Luther Rose offers Bethlehem members a way to recall the church’s roots and doctrine, have fun and emphasize multigenerational community.

Working in groups of various ages and sizes, each team completed 5-inch square sections of the larger design. Once assembled, the sections comprise a 48-inch wide piece.

The Lego Luther Rose has already proved an impressive conversation piece. People stop to marvel. Questions fly.

Hedding used the striking installation to explain to conformation students the significance of the Luther Rose.

It’s named for Martin Luther, a 16th century Catholic scholar and clergyman. On Oct. 31, 1517, he famously nailed a list of 95 Theses — or grievances — to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The action sparked an international firestorm.

One of Luther’s goals was to create pathways for regular people to understand their beliefs. Symbols, stories, music and the vernacular German language were tools he used to remove barriers and demystify religious images and elements.

The Luther Rose fit the bill. Its chief creator was Lazarus Spengler, a reformer and religious composer.

Luther admired and appreciated Spengler’s design, adopting it almost immediately. His explanation of the rose’s symbology is offered in the Book of Faith “Luther’s Small Catechism” and other resources.

Hedding, like many, can quickly recall these elements:

The black cross at the center of the heart symbolizes the “faith in the crucified saves us,” according to the Catechism.

“Such a faith should stand in the middle of a white rose,” wrote Luther, “to show that faith gives joy, comfort and peace.”

The white rose then stands on a sky-blue field, symbolizing “such joy in spirit and faith is a beginning of the heavenly future joy … grasped in hope not yet revealed.”

The entire field is encircled by a ring of gold, the most valuable, precious and best metal, Luther noted. And as Hedding told his students, “Even when gold is old, it looks new.”

Golden writes The Courier’s weekly faith and values column. Email her at


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