Windows to the Kingdom
The stained glass windows that surround us on Sunday mornings are, for many people, a meaningful part of the experience of this church, during worship and also during times of quiet reflection. This book includes the primary windows, three along each side of the nave, one high above the main entry doors, a large tableau window at each end of the transept, and the three windows over the altar. These all participate, in vivid color and intricate detail, in the telling of stories about the life of Jesus. The language of visual art often expresses truths differently than the language of words. Through patient attention to the images, our understanding of the underlying truths is expanded.
The much-beloved windows over the altar have a different feeling from all the rest. They are of a style called Art Nouveau, which was contemporary with the period when our church was built, in 1895. These three windows were designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany of New York, and installed at Easter, 1910. The rest of the windows are designed in the Gothic Revival style, which is also the style of the church architecture of St. James.
The pointed shape of each window is called a lancet, which corresponds to the space left by the pointed arch, for which this style is well known. The pictorial windows of the Gothic era present lifelike images of people, with lots of rich textural detail. The nature of the picturing, however, is highly stylized; they were not meant to copy the familiar world exactly, but instead to present a world full of symbols and messages that reward our attention endlessly. The Tiffany windows are also strongly recognizable images, but have a more fluid, mythical quality. Their garden landscape is even more unfamiliar to us as a place setting, though we feel at home. Its gentle, mysterious light is designed to draw us into the picture.
The Gothic revival windows were designed by the Jacoby Art Glass Company of St. Louis, and installed in 1948 in a church building which had, for its first 50+ years, had windows made of tiny diamond-shaped panes of clear golden glass. For many years, the Tiffany windows were the only pictorial windows in the church. Today we experience the images of all these windows as integral to the experience of St. James.
The Gothic windows were designed together, and they are meant to be seen together. They portray important and revealing moments about Jesus, typically quiet moments, and together they weave a larger portrait. The Tiffany windows use more subdued colors, and use different means of making symbols; and yet they too capture a vision of an excerpt of the Jesus story which harmonizes with the rest. Their tone contributes a quiet, meditative quality to our worship space.
As you visit with each of the windows, consider its relationship to the others, just as each separate story from scriptures contributes its ‘wisdom to a larger sense of Jesus’ earthly mission. These windows capture the spirit of that mission with images of extraordinary beauty and power.
Regarding the Original Publication:
Windows to the Kingdom was originally published in 1995 as an historical coloring book with pen-and-ink drawings of the windows in the nave and chancel of the church. Here is the introduction to that original publication:
Much of what Jesus taught concerned the Kingdom of God: what it is like, where we should search, how we should live in order that the Kingdom be realized. The Kingdom is close at hand, and yet it is elusive. The parables are full of metaphorical images of the Kingdom: mustard seed, wedding feast, vineyard, and many more. Images are powerful places to reflect, and to organize our inner lives. No images could be more appropriate to invoke a sense of what the Kingdom is, and a sense of wonder about what it could be, than images of the life of Jesus. We reflect on them, experience them with our own eyes, and gradually come to a closer understanding of ourselves, and how we, too, are in the picture.
These drawings of the stained glass windows of St. James Church are presented as an unfolding of the story of Jesus, in narrative sequence. Each window is accompanied by a small location map to direct you to it, as well as a brief passage from scriptures concerning the story of that window. Each also has a brief explanatory text. Please feel free to sit quietly in the church and reflect on the windows as you explore this book. Color these drawings with the colors of your own inner experience, and of the special qualities of daylight that enliven the church. Color them with crayons, markers, art pencils, and most especially, with love, as Christ loved us.
All scriptural passages are taken from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the bible. This project reflects the contributions of:
- photography: Fred Frey
- text: Lynn Schlossberger
- graphic renderings: Jo Craddock
- inspiration: Holy Spirit
We dedicate this book to Stacey Gerhart, in recognition of her great gifts and boundless energy, and in gratitude for her ministry as Director of Christian Education at St. James Church. We will miss her, and wish her Godspeed. —Lent, 1995
The windows in the church are dedicated to the Glory of God, and in loving memory of the following:
- The Nativity - the deceased children of the church
- Teaching in the Synagogue - Warren Russell Lobdell, Selser Robert Harmanson III
- Baptism in the Jordan River -Annie Fuqua Boyd, Thomas Duckett Boyd
- Healing the Sick - William Preston Barnes III
- The Good Shepherd - Lelia Taylor Laycock, Susie Hamilton Bienvenu
- The Transfiguration - Maria Louisa Beavin Wall
- Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem - members of the church who lost their lives in World War II: William Preston Barnes III • John Cameron Miller Jr. • William Bryan Growson III • James Leonard Powell • Harry Peck Dugas • Henry Wallace Stopher Jr. • Albert Phillips Dyer • Joseph Thomas Howell Laycock • John Morton Henderson • Ernest George Venner • Compton Rust Hummell Jr.
- Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane - Thomas Wilson Atkinson
- Angel of the Resurrection - Eleanor Garig Connell, Elvira D. Garig
- The Ascension - Dr. & Mrs. Lester Williams
Windows to the Kingdom Photos & Descriptions
This window was purchased with funds contributed by children of the Sunday School during the second world war, in memory of children who lost their lives during that war.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said, ‘’Do not be afraid, for I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” When the angel had left them, and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this they made known what had been told them about: this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.
—Luke 2:8-11, 15-18
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, ‘’Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
—Luke 2 : 46-49
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”
—Matthew 3 : 13-17
When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age.) At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think: If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of [he one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with them. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”
Just as this window portrays the community that surrounded Jesus, it was donated in memory of a group of parishioners caught up in the sweep of larger events: those who lost their lives in military service during the second world war.
Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching me path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power they had seen, saying: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”
A garden is an ambiguous place, neither wholly natural nor wholly invented. The natural landscape has been transformed by people, and yet it grows according to its own internal principles. A garden can be designed, but a wise gardener respects nature’s ways. The garden is shown here as a safe place of contemplation, a place where Jesus can allow the inner ambiguity, the tension between human desires and divine will, to work itself out. The energy of the storm cloud radiates toward him, and we understand that as symbolic of the charged experience of choosing to be present to God.
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death: remain here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet not what I want, but what you want.”
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”
After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them nor to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘’This,’’ he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.