Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Our congregation was named Gloria Dei in order to celebrate the glory of God. All of the windows that have been built into our sanctuary speak of God’s glory. Perhaps none does so in such a beautiful way as the upper central panel of windows above the altar. Here we see the glory of God in creation. Here we celebrate the recreation of a sin broken world when Jesus rose again. Here we acknowledge that God not only created light, He sent His Son to be the Light of the world. And thanks be to God, nothing can overcome that Light!
These windows were part of the original workmanship in the sanctuary. There are 8 panels in the window. In the four to the left the window tells you the story of creation. Read Genesis 1 and 2 and then look at the panels. (Go ahead… I’ll wait…)
The first thing that stands out about the window is the large, swirling ball of light in the middle. There are bright curves and shining beams of red and yellow and white. They remind us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The first thing He did was to say, “Let there be light.” And there was light. Good light. From that moment on God gives light. He gives physical light to creation. (Indeed the very fact that we can see these bright and beautiful windows at all gives glory to our Creator.) God also sends the light of the Gospel into all the world. Look at how the beams of light from the top window shine down into the bottom window? See that long sweep of light that goes right by the cross in the bottom window and continues onward as if it is going out the bottom of the window into our very sanctuary? That beam of light represents the Gospel. Jesus Christ is the Light of the world! God the Father sent Him into the world to die to pay for our sins. And now the light of the Gospel of Christ continues to shine among us as He is preached to us and as we partake of His body and blood in Holy Communion. Glory be to God!
The second thing we notice about the upper window is the panels to the far left. They show details from the other days of creation. You can see the waters in the heavens separated from the waters below. You can see the dry land appear. You can see the sun and moon and stars. You can see the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. You can see the two trees, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The skill that went into these window panels is remarkable. Take some time someday to search the windows for these details (including the smiling fish!) and appreciate more deeply what God has done as He created you and provides for you.
Notice that there are no people depicted in the upper window. We don’t see Adam and Eve in the window. By not showing them in the window, we are led to put ourselves in it. We don’t just think about how God made them long ago and provided for them. We also think about how God made us and provides for us. Think about how Luther teaches about the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed in the Small Catechism: “I believe God has made ME and all creatures…” Faith in the God who creates us means that we personalize what He has done, and trust that not only does God provide for the whole universe, He also lovingly gives us everything we need every day to provide for out body and life. Glory be to God!
The sad tragedy of the fall into sin is not recorded in the window, but we know all too well that it happened. Sin entered the world, and because of it the world
was broken. Death and damnation was the result. But God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Jesus died to pay for our sins. He rose again to give us eternal life! Our windows reflect the glory of Jesus resurrection in two beautiful ways. As we talked about last month, the bottom window depicts Christ risen from the dead. Indeed, the only depiction of a human in any of our windows in the sanctuary is that of our risen Lord Jesus. He stands at the door of the tomb, and light shines from Him going out to the world. What a beautiful depiction of the joy of hearing the Easter Gospel – Jesus is risen from the dead!
But there is another depiction of the resurrection in our window. Look for the giant butterfly in the panels on the right side. The butterfly is an ancient symbol of the resurrection. Just as the caterpillar goes into its cocoon and emerges later as a beautiful butterfly, so the Church rejoices that the dead Christ was laid in the tomb but arose and emerged on the third day in great glory – never to die again.
When Jesus rose again, He recreated our sin shattered world. No longer is death the end. All who believe and are baptized into Christ are cleansed from sin and are joined to His resurrection. We too will rise again on the Last Day. The Cross of Jesus Christ becomes for us the Tree of Life! Jesus’ resurrection has so much power to recreate that the Church has often called Easter Sunday the “8th day of creation.” This is why our upper window has how many panels? That’s right – 8! It helps you to remember that Jesus is risen again, and that you are connected to Him by grace through baptism, and that as He lives, so do you.
Glory be to God! And peace to His people on earth!