Tag Archives: Beauty of God

Worship Wednesday – Stained Glass Windows – Reflecting the Light and Beauty of God

Sainte Chapelle, Paris, France

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” – Psalm 27:4

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” – Matthew 5:14

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:5

Sainte Chapelle, Paris, France

My mom instilled in me a love for colored glass. She filled beautiful old wine decanters with color-tinted water and set them in our windows at home. On sunny days, the rooms dazzled with rainbow light. Such delight for us children! Then she discovered depression glass and again placed these translucent colored pieces on our dining table, making special occasions even more special.

My kitchen reflects my Mom’s influence with colored glass.

It wasn’t until I became an adult that stained glass windows became a real experience. Their wonder and beauty that changed with the light mesmerized.

Over the course of the last several years, my family has had opportunity to see some of the beautiful churches in the world…and right here in our own city. Below are just a few samples:

Sainte Chapelle, Paris, France

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Richmond, Virginia

We don’t always have a grand choice of a worship space, depending on where we live, given both our means and religious freedom. For some, a storefront is where we gather. For others, under a tree or in an apartment, shutters closed. Part of that reality makes the appeal of stained glass all the greater.

Stained glass windows evoke “the presence of the holy in our worship spaces” (in the words of artist Elizabeth Devereaux).

We know from Scripture that God is with us wherever we are. We count on that. Still, in a culture that cries against His very existence, being surrounded by sweet reflections of His light and beauty can lift our eyes up…to Heaven, to Him.

Stained glass relies on a light source for its characteristic vivid illumination. [It] is specifically designed to be highly translucent. This quality allows a great deal of light to pass through it which highlights its colors beautifully. That is why stained glass is particularly bright when viewed from inside a building on a sunny day or from outside the building on a night when there is ample light within. Stained glass works with the light to create its powerful effect…the color and brightness of the glass clearly has immense aesthetic appeal. That beauty often triggers powerful emotions within us – joy, inspiration, elation, humility, gratitude, and virtually anything else along the human emotional spectrum. – Steven L. Yarbrough

What Makes a Stained Glass Window Shine? – Steven L. Yarbrough

Our gathering space may be such that it has to work for multiple purposes – worship, concerts, conferences, suppers together. Nothing wrong with that. When we worship, visual art forms can set a tone for us to corporately and intimately connect with God

Stained glass windows are such an art form.

Stained Glass and the Book of Revelation – Msgr. Charles Pope

Our church building in Richmond (Movement Church) actually has stained glass windows. They weren’t on our wish list; they were part of a great gift to us by Patterson Avenue Baptist Church.

They are beautiful and we are grateful.

As Yarbrough says above, stained glass windows transmit light – either from outside during the day, or from inside during night hours. They speak to us of the great impact of God’s light in our daily lives and our darknesses.

Movement Church, Richmond, Virginia

As beautiful as stained glass windows are from the inside, they call us to worship at night. A church near our home has stained glass windows, and I love when they have services at night. Driving by, glancing over, I am transported by the colored light streaming through into the dark night reminding me. Not of differences in religions, or worship preferences, or negative religious experiences. No…none of that. I am reminded of the light and beauty of God. Joyfully.

We may be coming back around, the church today, to a preference of a more classic and sacred worship space…a place where stained glass windows draw our eyes and hearts up toward Heaven and all the hope and joy it reflects.

Worship the Lord of light and beauty with me today. Hallelujah!

[My only piece of stained glass at home – again a reminder of the Lord’s great gift of a Godly mom who taught us the Word and brought so much beauty into our lives – including an iris garden.]

Heavenly Illumination: The Science and Magic of Stained Glass – Andy Connelly

God in the Mending – Carrie McKean

Protestantism’s Great Opportunity – Lighting the Wasted Windows – The Literary Digest – November 26, 1921

What Kind of Church Appeals to Millennials? It’s Not as Trendy and Modern as You Think – Cath MartinPhoto Credit: Barna Group

Worship Wednesday – You Are Beautiful, God…and We Are Made in Your Image

Blog - Beauty of God - desertsendPhoto Credit: Desert’s End

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.Psalm 27:4

Before coffee this morning, I stretched myself awake. No note-to-self was perched on my keyboard. No song to highlight on today’s blog had come to mind. In the dark of this morning, this moment, quiet in my bed, the thought “You are beautiful” came to mind. Oh God! You are so beautiful!

We are surrounded by beauty in this life of ours. The glories of nature that stop us in our tracks to take it in. The faces of those we love who incredibly love us. The great satisfactions of pay for our labor, work that can make a difference, and rest when we’re weary. So much beauty in life – even in the midst of suffering. In fact, it is sometimes in the midst of suffering that the beauty of God is most evident – as we discover His presence in the resilience of the human spirit, the community that rallies, and the reach of outstretched hands.

How beautiful the works of God, but more beautiful God Himself. Mercy and justice perfectly blended. Love beyond anything of our understanding. Complete in the unity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Impossible for me to grasp and yet more real than anything else in this life.

Wednesday morning often includes a walk around my neighborhood, but not today. Without my notice, the rain came to wash away the rest of the snow. Stepping out of the house, and seeing the rain, I made a quick retreat back in…but not without taking in the sky and capturing a shaky panorama of that dense gray. Blog - Rainy Day - panoramaIf you click on the image, you notice a bird sitting atop a branch of one of those sturdy oaks. Like that bird, we are so small taking in the vastness of this beautiful world God has made for us. This created beautiful thing we call home for now. How much more beautiful is the One who created all this vastness – yet a tiny marble in His universe.

He is beautiful. You are beautiful, God…and You call us beautiful simply made in Your image and as we radiate Your glory.

I wrote before (here) about the beauty of God, focusing on the song You’re Beautiful by Phil Wickham. Another song that comes to mind, thinking of the beauty of God is MercyMe’s Beautiful. This song actually focuses on our beauty. How hard it can be to focus on the beauty of God when we feel so broken ourselves! He has made us beautiful… I wish we could hold up a mirror to each other, struggling in whatever our hard places are today, such that we could see ourselves as God sees us. MercyMe has done that in the song Beautiful.

Mark Altrogge wrote the song, I Stand In Awe of You, almost 30 years ago. I remember singing it during our years of living in Cairo, Egypt. We worshipped with other believers and seekers, foreigners and Egyptians together, (at Heliopolis Community Church). Blog - Heliopolis Community Church

Photo Credit: HCC Cairo

Hearing this song in various accents would remind me afresh of what it will be one day when we see God in Heaven, When our eyes of faith will be made sight…and we see Him as He is…”beautiful beyond description”.

Worship with me:

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom?
Who can fathom the depth of Your love?
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God to Whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You*

How have you experienced the beauty of God? Are there moments when you have had a glimpse of His beauty in your circumstances…or when He’s given you eyes to see how beautiful He’s made you? I would love to hear your stories (Comment below).

*Lyrics to I Stand In Awe of You by Mark Altrogge – as sung by Annie Herring

I Stand In Awe – Mark Altrogge, 1987 – at and Spiritual Songs

Story Behind the Song I Stand In Awe of You by Mark AltroggeBlog - The Beauty of God - the6cPhoto Credit: The6C