At the front right of the sanctuary, the first window depicts a towering column of cloud with beams of light streaming forth from its midst. This window represents the pillar of cloud described in Exodus, as God goes before God’s people who are fleeing from slavery in Egypt:
The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way. (Exodus 13:21)
This is not the only place in scripture where God is revealed as a cloud: often, we find God speaking to Moses from a cloud, and in the gospels, upon the Mount of Transfiguration, God speaks to Jesus’ disciples from a cloud saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Thus, the cloud is a symbol for the presence and guidance of God.
Opposite the pillar of cloud, at the left front of the sanctuary, the first window depicts a column of flames. In Exodus we are told that the Lord went before the people
…in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. (Exodus 13: 21-22)
Taken together, then, the pillars of cloud and fire at the front of our sanctuary signify God’s constant presence with this congregation, and God’s leading of this church out of a vibrant past and into an ever-unfolding future.
The Communion Window
The second window on the right symbolizes the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Its depiction of wheat and grapes recalls the bread and wine shared by Jesus with his disciples. In First Corinthians, Paul offers this description of the last supper:
The Lord Jesus, on the night that he was betrayed, took a loaf of bread. And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat the bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (I Corinthians 11: 23-26)
Opposite the Communion Window, the second window on the left represents the other sacrament, Baptism. Here, the symbolism includes a scallop shell, which was sometimes used in the early church to dip water for baptisms, as well as a waterfall which represents the abundance of new life through the waters of baptism. The dove symbolizes the work of the Holy Spirit. This window recalls the baptism of Jesus Christ:
As he was coming up out of the water he saw the heavens torn apart, and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. (Mark 1: 10)
It also reminds us of our own baptism and its call to new life:
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The third window on the right shows the star of Bethlehem, a symbol of the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. In Matthew’s gospel, the wise men observe a star that proclaims the birth of a messiah:
“Where is the child who has been born King of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.” (Mt. 2:2)
The theological term incarnation means “in the flesh.” It expresses our belief that Jesus is not merely human, but God in human form:
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 14)
The third window on the left depicts Easter lilies and butterflies. The Easter lily is perhaps the most visible and well known symbol of Easter, calling forth images of joy and new life. The butterfly is a symbol of resurrection, as a caterpillar enters a cocoon (recalling death and the tomb) and emerges as a butterfly (a brilliant and transformed life). This window serves as a remembrance of Christ’s resurrection and a promise of our own:
I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord. Those who believe in me shall live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. (John 11: 25-26)
Six of our windows depict the Great Ends of the Church (chief reasons for the church’s existence)
from the Presbyterian Church USA’s constitution.
The fourth widow on the right, with a dove hovering over a waterfall, symbolizes the Church’s call to be an instrument of social righteousness, protecting especially the downcast and the outcast. The waterfall is an image from the book of Amos:
Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24).
The fourth window on the left, showing a dove with an olive branch soaring above the globe, is symbolic of the church’s call to show forth the Kingdom of Heaven to the World. In Matthew Chapter 5, in his sermon on the mount, Jesus tells us the values of the Kingdom:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5: 3-10)
It is a set of values radically different from the world’s values, yet Christ calls us to show it forth:
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all the house. In the same way let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
The fifth window on the right, with the open Bible and dove superimposed upon a cross, represents the Church’s call to proclaim the gospel in the world. In Romans, Paul reminds us:
There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is the Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have not heard? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10: 12-15
A faithful church will always be at work proclaiming the gospel to a hungering world.
The fifth window on the left shows three hands of different races, joined in community and reaching heavenward. This window depicts the call of the church to be a place of shelter, of care and of community for all of the children of God. It also symbolizes that there are no barriers and the community of God is radical in its extent. The kingdom’s (and the church’s) radical welcome is summarized in Matthew 25: 34-40:
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
Then the righteous will answer, “Lord when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you? And the king will answer them, “Truly I say to you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
The sixth window on the right symbolizes the church’s call to preserve the worship of God. In a world that worships a thousand other things, the church calls God’s people to the activity of rejoicing in God’s love. The psalmist calls us to worship:
O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God and a great king above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land which his hands have formed. O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! (Psalm 95: 1-6)
The sixth window on the left reminds us that the church exists to work for the preservation of the Truth. As difficult as the world may be at times, and as dark as the world may seem, in its midst the church exists to proclaim this truth:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:5)
Again Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Wherever the church exists, it exists to preserve truth and to lift the light of Christ in a darkened world.
The seventh window on the right shows a dove surrounded by a swirl of wind moving over rocks and water. This window represents the creative activity of the Spirit of God. It is based on the opening verses of the book of Genesis:
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep while a wind from God (or the Spirit of God) swept over the face of the waters.
The window also represents God’s creative activity in our lives, for the movement of God’s Spirit continually brings forth life and newness.
The seventh window on the left shows the continuing movement of God’s creating, renewing Spirit. Representing Pentecost, the window depicts swirling wind, tongues of fire and a descending dove, all symbols of the work of the Holy Spirit. The second chapter of the book of Acts describes the Spirit’s movement on Pentecost:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. (Acts 2: 1-4)
The eighth window on the right shows the burning bush, recalling the stirring passage in the third chapter of Exodus when Moses encounters God:
The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then God said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3: 1-5)
The window reminds us that God still speaks to us in powerful and surprising ways, and that wherever we encounter God is holy ground.
The eighth window on the left is a symbolic call to servant-hood and stewardship. It depicts God’s promise to Abram (Abraham) in Genesis:
“I will bless you and make your name great, so that you may be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2)
The large beams of light in the window are symbolic of the blessings God showers upon us, and the smaller beams radiating outward from the upraised hands represent the divine call to be a blessing to and servant of others.
The ninth window on the right is the artist’s rendering of Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
The window, and the Psalm it represents, reminds us of God’s presence and comfort in every human circumstance.
The ninth window on the left is a beautiful image taken from Matthew’s gospel: Jesus says:
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it is grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches. (Matthew 13: 31-32)
In showing both the tiny mustard seed (in a circle of gold glass amid the roots) and the fully grown shrub with the nesting birds, the artist has captured both the small beginnings and the grand fruition of God’s kingdom. We are reminded as people of faith that God can bring great and unpredictable results from even the humblest circumstances or conditions.
The broken sword in the tenth window on the right is a symbol of the reign of Jesus Christ. Isaiah chapter 11 offers this description of “the peaceable kingdom” of God’s messianic king:
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the delight of the Lord….the wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them…they will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
We, in our day, must not only yearn for the reign of Christ but also seek it and usher it in. The broken sword is a statement that the church must never resign itself to the reality of war.
The tenth window on the left is an image of swords and plowshares. Isaiah 2:4 describes the fondest hope of the people of God: God’s Kingdom of Peace.
He shall judge between the nations and arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
This window reminds us that God’s ultimate vision for humanity is peace among all nations. It also calls us to order our every action toward that vision.