Light teaches. That is the way to think about any stained glass window in a church. The colorful pictures, figures, or scenes and images made in glass always teach us something about the faith through light. They should be much more than decoration on a building…they should be inspiration about the Gospel.
In 2004 a generous donor offered to give a stained glass window for the new chapel. What a great opportunity to cap off this magnificent space. I accepted the offer.
I then turned to my favorite artist and got to work. Fran wanted to convey the deep connection that believers have with Jesus Christ. Remember His words: “I am the vine, you are the branches …apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) She designed the border of the round window to be filled with intertwined branches, leaves and vine stalks. There is life and growth and refreshment (joy!) in our belonging to Jesus Christ. This image encircles the main element of the window and connects all four arms of the cross symbol.
For my part, I thought about the challenge of Jesus to the disciples in Luke 14. Not only does He tell us to bear our cross under obedience, but He also explains the terms of discipleship with two vivid images: a wise builder constructing a tower, and a shrewd king going to war. His message: If you are going to follow Me, prepare to build and battle to the finish!
The hand tool of the builder and the armament of the soldier are the main feature of the window: the trowel and the sword.
Nehemiah suggests this same idea in Chapter 4. He tells the workers/soldiers to carry both a trowel and a sword as they rebuild the wall. Be prepared to do two things at once: build and battle*. Further, Jesus told Peter that the church would be built on the confession of his faith and the gates of hell would not prevail (battle) against it.
It seemed to me that the bible was communicating a comprehensive idea: God’s people are both builders and battlers. Always.
These two designs are blended together with wonderfully brilliant colors. The entire image forms the shape of a cross, as it should. It is through the cross that we build the church and battle for the sake of the Gospel.
*I remembered these two images from a sermon I read from G. Campbell Morgan many, many years ago.