God's Word In Art

October 18, 2015
by Joel Jongkind

I have lately developed the habit of looking at the stained glass windows in the different churches that I visit. There is a great variety of them, and I am amazed at the different biblical scenes and symbols which are displayed in the various places of worship: the burning bush, a dove, and a harp — just to mention a few. There are also large windows with various pictures of Jesus and His disciples. Most of these are fairly old and have been in these churches for many years.

In 1994 in Meaford, we built a new church building, and we brought three windows from the 1938 church and installed them in an inside wall with lights behind them. But we also wanted to install a new stained glass window in the front of the sanctuary where there was a large window to be used for the installation of a picture window at a later date.

In 1998, we contacted Sue Obata, an artist, who came from Toronto to have a look. Sometime later, she presented us with a drawing of what she thought would be an appropriate window for us. In her accompanying letter, she wrote:

With the cross as the focal point, the theme of "Love, Faith, and Hope" would be fitting. Faith, of course, is represented by the cross, and blue is the colour of the heavens. Green is the universal colour of nature, signifying hope. And love is an emotion that can be represented by warm colours, traditionally, often red and sometimes violet.

On our drive from Collingwood to Meaford, I enjoyed seeing a bit of Georgian Bay and decided to use some of this imagery with colours in the design. Thus the green became stylized boughs of evergreens. The base of the cross sits on the rocks by the shore. Over the water, the day breaks, bringing warmth and love.

The other symbolism is Christ the rock of our salvation. The symbol of Christ the rock suggests solidity and security as expressed in Psalm 18:2a – "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer" (KJV) and Psalm 95:1b – "Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation" (KJV). The cross atop the rock recalls for Christians that Christ became the sure basis of their faith by dying on Calvary's cross for our sins and thus gaining peace with God.

Now when we enter the sanctuary, we see the cross on the rocks, and we are reminded of the death of Jesus on the cross at Calvary and what that means to us here and now. We are again reminded that Jesus is the rock of our salvation, on which our faith is built, but we also remember those in whose memory this memorial window was dedicated — those who went before us, those who may have been part of this community of believers in years past, those who were near and dear to us, but who have now passed on — and every time we enter the sanctuary, we will think of them, too.

When you enter a sanctuary with such windows, look at them, study them, and see how God's Word is displayed in beautiful pictures.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for the artists who have created the wonderful biblical scenes in so many Christian churches in so many different places over the years. May we have the desire to look at them and see your Word displayed in such an artful way. We offer this prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.

About the author:

Joel Jongkind <austria67@bmts.com>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Beautiful Joel.


    Enjoyed hearing about the new church windows.
    (ON)


    Thanks, Joel, for inspiring us again today.
    May the LORD bless you richly for sharing.


    Thanks Joel for this reminder of what this window means to us and for the broader reminder of the beauty and messages in all stained glass windows.


    Joel – I loved this story and devotional. Do you have a digital picture of this stained glass window?
    I would love to see it. God bless you.


    Thank you for sharing the story of your church window Joel. So nice to know the story behind the beautiful windows and how they came about. As I read about the design I was thinking “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand”.


    Hi Joel, I enjoyed your devotion and the imagery you put in my head this morning. In our church we had no stain glass in the sanctuary but at the front we had an old cross with the dove coming down attached to it.
    Thank you for blessing us with the devotion.


    Thank you Joel. Churches have always been a place we’ve stopped in our travels, and admired the stained glass windows… more so perhaps, in my having taken lessons in stained glass making and know it is no small feat. The thought, planning, love, care, patience and precision that had to go into every single window made… not to mention, I’m sure, the prayers, makes them truly a gift back to God for the gift the stained glass makers were given by Him.


    Joel,
    I’m curious if others are interested in seeing this window. If you send it out, please include me in that mailing.
    Blessings,
    (CA)


    I enjoyed your devotional about stained glass windows and the symbolism and story in them. We have visited many churches in a number of different countries and we love looking at the stained glass windows. Some of the ones in Europe are pretty spectacular. We have especially enjoyed it when there is a guide there to tell us what is on the windows, because so often, there is much more there than meets the eye. I liked hearing what the artist had to say – just like with the guides, it makes the window more meaningful. Very cool.


    Thanks for your message today.
    I agree that stain glass windows can be educational and inspiring.
    I was raised in England as a nonconformist though as a teenager I joined the local Anglican church because it had the best youth club by far. I saw some windows there, but could understand little of the symbolism.

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