One Minister’s Musings
May 23, 2011
A giant blue fish now sits in the front lawn of the campus center. It is waiting to catch a few bikes as it dramatically catches the eye of many people walking past the center.
This giant fish-shaped metal sculpture is an easily recognized symbol of being Christian. It is very practical in that it is a great bike rack. It is artistic in that is it a simply lovely metal sculpture. And, it is symbolic of the mission of St. Andrew’s.
This simple fish shape — <>< — is a symbol, first used within the first centuries of Christian people. The Greek Word for fish —ichthus— is an anagram/acronym for “Jesus Christ God’s Son, Savior.” Fish was also a common food at the time of Jesus and is used as a symbol throughout much of Jesus’ teaching and ministry. Andrew (the name sake of our church) was a fisherman.
There is an interesting legend about this simple fish image. As the Christian community grew after the ascension of the resurrected Jesus, they experienced persecution by many. It was dangerous to be a Christian. So, as two Christians met, one would draw on the ground the upper half of the fish symbol in a wide arch. As the other would recognize the symbol, this stranger would add the second curved line to complete the drawing of the fish. When the second arc was drawn, the strangers could greet each others as sisters and brothers in Christ. If the stranger did not add the second half, this symbolic action could be erased quickly.
We are excited and very grateful for this generous gift from the family of Donald and Barbara Schlund from Princeton, IL. It was designed by Tom Schlund, a graduating senior from UIUC, and built by Tom and his dad, Donald. We dedicated the bike rack on Sunday, May 8 along with blessing bikes and bikers.
It is the hope of the leadership at St. Andrew’s that this simple fish image, <>< , will become a key identifying image for our mission and ministry on the UIUC campus. We hope people see the fish in front and know we are a Christian community longing to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world. We hope that each Sunday will become a “Bike to Church Sunday”. We hope to live forward into this mission: At St. Andrew’s we “gather, grow, and give” in Jesus’ name. <><