Contemplating the 10 stained glass windows in our Sanctuary, we discover a myriad of biblical symbolism and theological concepts tracing God’s sovereignty from Genesis through Revelation. There are five windows on the left (east side) and five on the right (west side), each following the natural progression of Scripture.
The first window on the east side and the last one on the west side contain panes in the shape of a cross with similar contemporary geometric patterns and color palettes that form the backdrop for all of the smaller windows.
Looking to the east, the first small window depicts the creation story in Genesis 1 where God divides darkness from light and sky from water, creating the sun, moon, stars, and every living creature. The fish shape of an ichthus (Greek word meaning fish) is the symbol of Jesus Christ used by first and second century Christians. Its inclusion within this Old Testament concept foreshadows the hope of Christ’s coming as revealed in Scripture.
The second window depicts Exodus chapter 3 where God appears to Moses as an unconsumed burning bush. Just as God called Moses to free the children of Israel, so He constantly searches us out, wanting us to be in relationship with Him.
The third window depicts the Ten Commandments. These principles relating to ethics and worship appear twice in the Old Testament (Exodus 20:1-17, Deuteronomy 5:4-21).
The fourth window contains a reference to ancient Hebrew numerology and mysticism. A brown hand holds the image of a human being, depicted in black. The hand holding a person might reference Isaiah 49:16, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” the squiggle above the hand is in the shape similar to that of a yod, the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The most frequently occurring letter in Scripture, its shape appears within the form of every other letter and therefore every word in the Torah. The yod is symbolically considered the starting point of the presence of God in all things—the divine spark of the spirit in everything.
Turning to the first window in the west, we move into the New Testament books of Matthew and Luke with the birth of Christ.
The second window exhibits a large cross and, in its center, a crown with thorns depicting the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
The third window references the story of Pentecost in Acts 2, where tongues of fire separated the crowd and the disciples began to speak in different tongues. Scripture says this happened suddenly, “like the blowing of a violent wind,” which is implied by the shape of each flame.
The fourth window features a crown in yellow and golden tones. Throughout the New Testament, Christ is referred to as a King—particularly in the book of Revelation, from
which the famous line from the Hallelujah chorus is taken (“King of Kings and Lord of Lords” – Revelation 19:16).
Finally, the overarching story of these windows—from Genesis to Revelation, from beginning to end—is suggested by their placement within our Sanctuary. The Old Testament windows appear in the east where the sun rises and the New Testament windows appear in the west where the sun sets, suggesting the all-encompassing narrative of the Bible and its completeness relative to God’s desire to be in relationship with us.
by Peter Lewis
This article is an abbreviated version of the original feature written by then Associate Director of Sacred Arts Peter Lewis, published in the March-April 2014 issue of the Epistle. After a successful 18-year musical ministry at First Church, Peter moved to Virginia in October 2018 to continue work in his two chosen professions—as a social worker with health services and as a church organist and choir director.
All the stained and etched glasswork used in our Sanctuary and Price Chapel was created by master glazier and stained-glass artist Charly Engels, founder of DomCat Studios, Inc. based in Cape Coral. DomCat specializes in religious stained-glass windows for churches, emphasizing new design and glass painting. Charly, born and trained in Germany, relocated to the U.S. in 1987. DomCat’s first commissioned job was Christus Victor Lutheran Church in Bonita Springs.
A tradition in stained glass window-making has been the inclusion of a deliberate mistake to suggest that, in the creation of an artistic work, the artist is imperfect—especially relative to God’s perfection. Can you find an intentional mistake in our church’s windows? (Hint: Look at the first and fourth window on the east side. Does something seem odd or out of place?)