For All the Saints 2022: Week 5

Nativities Around the World
Staff Spotlight: Todd Zittlow
Concordia Historical Institute’s On-Site Museum

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Nativities Around the World

Nativity from Guatemala. For more on this piece, see:

Did you know that CHI is home to nativity scenes from around the world?

In 1993, Concordia Historical Institute was given a collection of crèches by the wife of Rev. William D. Kniffel, who served for twenty-five years as the director of international relations for the International Lutheran Laymen’s League.

At left, this small nativity (natividad) from Guatemala is part of the collection. Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus are wooden and dressed in traditional Mayan clothing (traje).

Polish Crèche. For more information on this piece, see:

The small wooden nativity scene (right) was handmade in Poland by S. Sitarski and J. Fedorowicz.  An interesting feature of this piece is that baby Jesus held in this mother’s arms rather than being in a manger.

In this season of Advent, we reflect and anticipate the coming of Christ. The images of the nativity serve as reminders of the greatest gift given to the world, our Savior. Through the preparation for the Lord’s coming, each year we reignite the joy that comes from awaiting the mystery and majesty of the child born in Bethlehem who would save the world from sin. Our hope is in Jesus.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. […] For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:2, 6–7

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Staff Spotlight: Todd Zittlow

“Over the months of the past year, I have come to reflect on my gratitude for the supporters of Concordia Historical Institute. This gratitude extends across various dimensions. First, of course, I am glad that the historical record of God’s activities among His people is recorded and preserved. After all, one can think of the scriptures as recording God’s activity in and for His creation within history which has been preserved, transcribed, and copied across the generations.

Secondarily, I am grateful because this support provides a meaningful vocation, value, and support for myself and my family. Supporters of CHI are literally putting food on my family’s table and a roof over our heads. In my estimation this is substantially more significant than the seller/buyer relationship in commerce. We thank you, sincerely.

Supporting an archive is not always an obvious choice because there are so many other worthy causes and missions both in the world and among Christians. However, I have found it helpful to consider archives as a critical cultural institution. In a similar way to the opera and other arts, these institutions support culture in ways that are difficult to quantify, but society is undoubtedly less with their absence. I hope you can catch the vision of archives, Concordia Historical Institute, as serving an important and often less visible role in maintaining a highly cultured society and church life.”

-Todd Zittlow, Archivist

Concordia Historical Institute’s On-Site Museum

As part of our mission to educate the Lutheran public about their church’s history, CHI runs an on-site museum. A portion is dedicated to a permanent display on early LCMS history, with a special emphasis on the life and work of first president of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod C. F. W. Walther. There is also a large portion for other exhibits throughout the year. These exhibits, in recent years, have included both historical and fine art exhibits in recent years.

Centrally located on the campus of Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, our exhibit serves a variety of populations. With its close proximity to the seminary, we receive a number of faculty, staff, student, and other seminary community visitors. Additionally, with the large number of other LCMS and affiliated institutions located in the greater Saint Louis area, it is a popular location for Lutherans! The museum is also a popular space for special events.

We also see our museum as a means for outreach into our community. Clayton is a vibrant and diverse community, and CHI is located in the middle of a popular walking route. As such, we hope to offer a beacon of Christ’s love into our neighborhood through our museum exhibits.

Previous Exhibits

Previously, CHI has hosted an exhibit featurings its Rare Coin and Medal Collection entitled, “Pressed into Service by the Word of God.” The coins and medals were displayed alongside relevant period books on Lutheran and Reformation theology for additional context. In this way, the coins and medals could be understood fully as engraved testaments to the faith of the artists and the works’ commissioners.

CHI also recently held an exhibit entitled “The Mercy of Christ Freely Given: The First Twenty-Seven Years of Missouri Synod Mission Work in South India.” The exhibit featured photographs, artifacts, and maps used to tell the stories of the first LCMS missionaries and their work in South India. The exhibit was also adapted into a Bible study, available online for free in English as well as Tamil and Malayalam for our sister-church in India. This was part of a larger series of projects on Lutheranism in India, including work by CHI through the offices of LCMS Disaster Response to assist in revitalizing the archives at the Lutheran seminary in Nagercoil, India, after the campus was nearly destroyed by a cyclone in 2017.

Current Exhibit

We currently have an ongoing exhibit, “Martin, Katharina, Philipp und Friedrich: Historic Images of the Reformers – An Exhibition of Fine Art.” This exhibit seeks to show how artists used their creations to teach about the faith. Featuring a variety of eras, genres, and media, we hope that visitors will learn about art history and their faith. This exhibit only lasts until February 18, 2023, so plan your visit today!

Future Exhibits

We have plans for many fascinating and enjoyable exhibits in the future. However, planning and executing a museum exhibit is a large task and requires the generous funding of our supporters. Please, if you believe in the work and mission of CHI and its museums, give your most generous gift today. And to all of our supporters who have already given: thank you for moving Lutheran history forward!

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