The Ascension of Jesus
Located on the north wall of the nave, closest to the front, this window is called “Jesus Ascension.” You can read about it in the new Testament: Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-51; and a reference in John 20:17-31. It was the last time Jesus physically appeared to His disciples. He had taken them to a place near Bethany and as He was giving them a final blessing, the miracle occurred and He was seen ascending into the heavens, going to His Father. He had given “The Great Commission” to them and us to make disciples of every nation. The disciples were so overjoyed at this conclusion of their earthly companionship with the Lord that Luke adds that they were continually in the Temple praising and blessing God! Artist Suzanne Spalding has pinpointed the exact moment of Christ’s ascension. She shows Him with hands extended in blessing, already above the group of disciples on the hill below who are not seen in the picture. This helps all who look to see only the great subject of this event, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, finished with the crucifixion, victorious over death, and now leaving our planet with everything completed. He told the disciples of an event to come in a very short time which will empower them (and us) for the commission, His last words. He slowly moved upward and away from them. You can almost hear those words which ring across two millennia: “Go Ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel unto every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Matthew 16:15-16).
The Last Supper
John 11:43-44 Located on the north wall in the sanctuary at the second window from the back, this window is simply titled “The Last Supper.” The color patterns in this window are unusually beautiful to study. It is important to remember that when depicting an event which is not dynamic such as in a “moment” which is static, an artistic license is available. A dynamic art piece such as a play, a pageant, a video, or movie can depict an event in a “living” way with scenes in a chronological order. In a static art piece, the scene may show related subjects which are not in a living or sequential order. In this window you will see such a depiction. All the factors are part of the event, but did not all occur at the same moment which the scene depicts. In this window you know it is the evening before the Crucifixion, the arches tell us it was not a public event but the institution of the New Covenant’s Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (also called the Eucharist, Holy Communion, etc.), and that it was held inside in an upper room where Golgotha Hill is not far away. Jesus will be crucified there in just a few hours. The artist reminds us of this terrible act in this static scene by placing the crosses on the hill. Also notice how she had to use the constraints of a narrow and tall window. Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous wall painting in Milan turned the view, as did most artists, to depict the scene in horizontal fashion because that was the way the wall was situated. Our artist shows it is getting dusk. The miraculous event of God truly coming to us in a physical way is found recorded in Matthew 26:17ff, Mark 14:12ff, and Luke 22:7ff. After the upper room events came the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal, arrest and accusations, the hearings throughout the night, Via Dolorosa (the Way of Sorrows) to Calvary, the actual crucifixion, slow death, anointing, and burial...all before six p.m. on Friday, all within 24 hours, the start of the Jewish Sabbath. Now Christ lay in death’s strong grasp until the third day. There is so much to try to say in one window, but this beautiful work should stimulate all the peripheral events surrounding the scenes as well.
The Baptism of Jesus
Located on the north side of our sanctuary, the second window from the front is called simply: “The Baptism of Jesus.” This baptism is recorded in Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; and Luke 3:21-22. The accounts are brief but give us the essentials: John baptizes Jesus in the Jordan River, a dove as the Holy Spirit descends from above, and God’s voice is heard from heaven acknowledging that Jesus is His only begotten Son and that He is well pleased with Him. This miraculous event is not only shown in the unusual things that happened but also in the miraculous power of baptism for us. It is defined in Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Glass artist Suzanne Spalding again has made an inspiring window for us to picture the history of this moment. Everything is there: sky, river, John, Jesus, dove...all in beautiful color. Let us be reminded of our Baptism in Christ every time we see this window. We can also use it as a tool occasionally as our children grow to put them in remembrance of their own baptism, perhaps mentioning when, where, whom, etc. and what it means. This scroll-window is continuously witnessing this great part of our faith in Christ.
The Nativity of Jesus
Located on the north wall of the sanctuary, the first window is called “The Virgin Birth at Bethlehem.” The reference is in Luke 2:1-11. This miraculous historical event is probably the most celebrated all over the world. Millions celebrate Christmas without realizing what it is all about. We believe what the bible teaches about it. No more and no less. It recalls the fullness of time in God’s sight when He, the Father, also became a human being, His Son, Jesus the Christ. Jesus is also called Immanuel which translated from the original Hebrew means “God With Us.” We cannot believe God is remote from us. He walked physically on our planet for 33 years and experienced everything we humans do, including death. He was conceived in a miraculous manner by his mother, Mary, the one chosen by God, and without a human father! Our glass artist, Suzanne Spalding demonstrates her understanding of this miraculous event. In the distance we see the tiny figures of shepherd and sheep. But dominating the night sky is the star which gives its light in the shape of a cross which comes to a point over the manger scene. It is, like the Bible states, not only a reminder of the joy of God becoming one of us, but also that Jesus will suffer and give His life for the sins of the entire world and that the cross will pierce the heart of His mother, Mary, when she sees her son in His passion and death. Joy and Sorrow...all in this beautiful stained glass window.
Noah's Deliverance From the Flood
The first stained glass window at the front on the south wall gives a view of one of the earliest miracles recorded in the Old Testament. It is called: “Noah’s Deliverance From the Flood.” Notice the proximity of this window to our baptismal area. The water depicted in the window floated the Ark in safety. The water of Baptism is the effective and saving sign of God’s covenant of salvation with us as He imparts His grace through water. The events of the window are based on Genesis 6-8. In this window a number of things come together: the universal flood, the Ark, the pairs of animals, the dove, the sun coming out again, the dry land appearing, etc. Noah and his family spent more than a year in the Ark. The colors are beautiful in this window and go from the dark blue at the bottom to the bright yellow of the sun at the top. It is interesting to know that the worship space in which we sit is called “the nave” by ecclesiastical architects. We have the word “Navy” from the same root. The ship of the ark miraculously saved Noah and his family as the world which rejected Noah’s preaching and warnings perished. It is a forerunner of today. The Church where God’s salvation in Christ alone is preached faithfully, is the ship of safety for all who come, listen, and believe while those who reject God’s love in Christ perish by their own decision. What a wonderful task the Lord has given us to tell people of the mighty Savior who saved us from the path of destruction men choose willingly to follow. Noah’s time and world is reminiscent of our time and world. As God saved Noah and delivered him from death in the flood, so He saved us through the flood of Christ’s blood shed for our sins to redeem the world.
Moses and the Burning Bush
Located on the south wall of the nave, second from the front, this window is called “Moses and the Burning Bush.” This Old Testament miracle is recorded in Exodus 3. Look at that third chapter and see if you can guess which verse is the precise one captured in the window. Recall that when the bush was burning and not being consumed, Moses’ curiosity got the better of him and he started to approach the area. But he was stopped “dead” in his tracks! The clue which answers the question is in verse 5. “... put off thy shoes off from thy feet.” Notice the glass art. Moses has his shoes off. He is at a pivotal point of his life. He was found guilty of murder by the Egyptian court and was sentenced to die in the desert heat. But God had preserved him for a long time. The Children of Israel were persistent in their prayers and now God is commissioning Moses to be the Deliverer of his people from the long, long Egyptian . We have another window depicting a later mighty miracle in Moses’ life when the waters of the Red Sea were parted to permit the exodus of the Israelites to continue over dry land as the Egyptian armies were in hot pursuit behind them. Before his life is to end, Moses sees many later miracles wrought by God’s mighty hand! The beautiful colors selected for the window show the contrast between the “mountain of God” and the burning bush. Moses has put his staff down. Maybe it is the same one he used at God’s command in miracles done in Egypt. His shoes have been removed since he is on hallowed ground. He is shielding his eyes from the glow of the fire.
The Parting of the Red Sea
Located on the south wall of stained glass windows, the third window from the front depicts another miracle taken from the Old Testament. The window is called “Parting of the Waters at the Red Sea.” This historical event is recorded in Exodus 14 and was so stupendous that many try to deny it ever happened! For example, many say it was not the Red Sea, but the Reed Sea, sort of like a marsh where people could go through without drowning. But then they have to break the Word of God who says the Israelites went through on dry ground (not even muddy) and the Egyptian Army drowned...in marsh? Our artist, Suzanne Spalding, even gave a hint of the greatest miracle of all: the salvation of the sinful human race through the cross upon which Christ paid with His suffering and death for the sins of every human being who ever lived! Can you find the cross at the top of the window near the top of the staff Moses is holding high. It is at the bisection of the staff and lines of clouds! This staff is likely the one which turned into a serpent in Pharaoh’s court, and touched the Nile to turn it into blood. Now Moses uses it to quiet the fears of the panicked children of Israel seeing deep waters in front and the Egyptian Army pressing at the back. Notice how the artist has accomplished this scene which occurred about 1500 BC. This is a beautiful window to contemplate.
Three Men in the Furnace
Located on the south side of the sanctuary in the second space from the rear of the nave is the window titled “The Three Men in the Fiery Furnace.” The history of this Old Testament miracle is recorded in the Book of Daniel, the third chapter. The miracle occurred during the Sixth Century Before Christ’s birth. Looking at the window you might think the name of the window does not fit the picture. There appears to be not three, but four men in the flames. But Daniel tells us one is an angel. Nebuchadnezzar is the king of Babylon who had made an enormous slender image of gold about a hundred feet high and more than ten feet wide and set it up on a plain in the province of Babylon. Babylon was the name of the greatest cities of ancient times and also the name of the entire geographical area, much like New York, New York. The king gathered all his princes and officials for its dedication. A herald announced that whenever a musical signal was given his subjects were to fall down toward the image in worship. Failing to do this, a person could immediately be seized for disobedience to the king and cast into a fiery furnace. Some of the Jewish captive people declined to honor the decree. Three of them, recorded as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were accused and put into the fiery furnace which was heated seven times more than usual. The interchange between the king and the three men is interesting to read. The guards who cast them bound into the furnace were killed from the heat. Verse 27 tells us the fire had no power over the three men and not even one hair on their heads was singed! Try to imagine how this affected the mighty king? Read it all and the outcome of the miracle in that 30-verse chapter and try to imagine the event. Artist Suzanne Spalding correctly and beautifully shows the three men in the flames in this scroll-window. The angel is ministering to them. They are not only no longer bound, but their clothes are intact! What a mighty miracle indeed. What a reminder to us of God’s power. What an attractive depiction of the event!
Daniel in the Lions' Den
Located on the south wall of the sanctuary, the very last window at the rear is called “Daniel in the Lions’ Den.” After the miracle of the three men in the fiery furnace, the great King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar had his mind and attitude changed about the Lord God Jehovah and expresses himself in words one would never expect from his previous actions. It is worth noting this change in Daniel 4. However, his successor, Belshazzar, was the end of his line. His impious feast with the “handwriting on the wall” (yes, that’s where the expression came from) was the end of his life and kingdom that very night! He was slain and Darius the Median took the kingdom. At this point Daniel 6 starts the account of Daniel and his experience in the lions’ den. Daniel rose to one of the highest positions in the land during the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews and was well respected. Those that were jealous of him sought in an occasion against him in the kingdom. But they could find none and so many got together to try to show he had broken a statute of the king by praying to the only true God. But they had to trick King Darius into signing an “infallible” decree (good during a brief thirty day period) to use as the basis for their coming accusation. These jealous people heard Daniel praying to the Lord God of Israel and went straight to King Darius. The King wanted to deliver Daniel but the law prevented him since he had signed the decree. He was forced to send Daniel to the lion’s den as the decree provided for those who disobeyed. But sadly, Darius told Daniel that his God would surely deliver. (If your curiosity wants to know the details of the decree Darius signed, see chapter 6:5-9). Verse 24 shows the terrible fate of the false and jealous accusers. Suzanne Spalding painted the lions not as great brutes ready to destroy, but almost kitten-like, for that is how they became as Daniel sat among them until the next morning. The king was so glad to see him unharmed and ordered him taken from the pit. It makes us realize that we also are kept from harm with the faith of Daniel and that Christ brings us up out of the pit unto Himself through His own miraculous work in our life. “Fear not, O little flock, the foe.”