“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
God gives children such beautiful faith! Even the smallest members of His family are invited to worship Him, read His Word, and live out vocations for His glory.
Luther recognized this and sought to teach faith-building lessons in an attainable way to youth. His Small Catechism was written to teach children about the faith in a simple way! One perfect object lesson for teaching matters of faith and salvation is Luther’s seal (also known as Luther’s rose).
The Parts of Luther’s Rose
Before we get into some creative activities for making your very own Luther’s rose, I will step aside and let him explain the seal’s parts in his own words:
There is first to be a cross, black [and placed] in a heart, which should be of its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. For if one believes from the heart he will be justified. Even though it is a black cross, [which] mortifies and [which] also should hurt us, yet it leaves the heart in its [natural] color [and] does not ruin nature; that is, [the cross] does not kill but keeps [man] alive. For the just man lives by faith, but by faith in the Crucified One.
Such a heart is to be in the midst of a white rose, to symbolize that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace; in a word it places the believer into a white joyful rose; for [this faith] does not give peace and joy as the world gives and, therefore, the rose is to be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and of all the angels.
Such a rose is to be in a sky-blue field, [symbolizing] that such joy in the Spirit and in faith is a beginning of the future heavenly joy; it is already a part [of faith], and is grasped through hope, even though not yet manifest.
And around this field is a golden ring, [symbolizing] that in heaven such blessedness lasts forever and has no end, and in addition is precious beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.
(Luther’s Works 49:358–59)
Four Activities to Teach about Luther’s Rose
Luther’s rose makes such a great object lesson for children because it’s so visual and uses a combination of simple parts that build on one another. You can adapt your lessons on the individual elements to teach colors to younger children, simple concepts of salvation for older children, and basic theology for confirmands.
And, because the rose itself is relatively simple in design, it’s easy to use for a variety of crafts, activities, and lessons!
Make each individual part of Luther’s rose out of laminated paper or felt, allowing children to see each piece separate from one another. As a class, you can each build your own seal piece by piece, starting with the outer gold ring and working inward. (The golden ring and blue sky can just be large circles that serve as the base.) Assemble and glue down your pieces as you go, pausing to explain each element and its significance.
The puzzle project can be adapted to be more hands-on (literally), letting children use their handprints to create different parts of the rose.
Children can use their hands for the white rose, dipping their hands in white paint and place them on the paper five times or so, keeping their palms in the middle but rotating their fingers with each print so it creates a flower shape. You could also use their handprints to make the heart, having them dip their hands in red paint and place their palms together at an angle to create a heart shape.
This project is wonderful for building community as you teach the parts of the seal. Similar to the puzzle idea above, this great seal can be made piece by piece as you discuss each element and read the corresponding Bible verses. Assemble the pieces on a large banner, having all children help cut, glue, and place the pieces. Have children sign their names around the rose on the banner to personalize it. Then, display it as a reminder of what you learned! I did this activity with young children, but it could be very effective with older children as well.
If your group is looking for a more simple, affordable, and less time-consuming way to learn the parts of Luther’s rose, consider printing out coloring pages of the seal. You can still walk through the seal piece by piece, having children color as you teach. Or, have children color the seal based on their memory of the lesson!
May God bless the conversations you have with your children as you discuss this beautiful symbol of our salvation!
Quotation from Luther’s Works is from the American Edition: vol. 49 © 1972 by Fortress Press. Used by permission of the publisher.