Tag Archives: stained glass windows

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

Tourist in My Own Town – First Visit to the State Capitol & the Church Beside – Richmond, Virginia

Blog - Virginia_State_Capitol_Building_2 - wikimedia org (2)Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org

I love history but am not a very serious student of it. Wanna be, but truth be told, not so much. Children’s picture books with real (not revisionist) history as text are about my speed. Seriously, I do appreciate context and seeing puzzle pieces of our stories fit together. What a gift to have someone else bring me along with their children on a history field trip, sort of. That was my yesterday.

A friend, new to Richmond, Virginia, invited me to join her for a trip to the State Capitol downtown. I agreed to drive since I knew my city so well. [Ha!] It was a hot humid day which made it perfect to be inside an air-conditioned government building.

We headed into Richmond via Monument Avenue.   A really gorgeous, tree-lined street with huge houses on each side. It’s called Monument Avenue because of all the monuments . Most are of Confederate generals atop their horses. I told my passengers that there’s some sort of code about the hewn statues – denoting, by the position of horse and rider, whether the generals survived the waror not. Well, it turns out that’s a myth.  Strike one for the city “insider”.

We missed our turn into the city on purpose to drive across the James River by way of the Belvidere (Robert E. Lee) Bridge. Richmond is a striking city with the James running through it. On the U-turn back toward the city, I pointed out the Virginia War Monument and then what I thought was the Capitol Building, right behind, on a grassy knoll that slopes right down to the River. Wrong! Strike two. [I still don’t know what that great white columned building  is. Anybody?]

Strike three for me was assuming there would be parking attached to the Capitol building. I circled and circled and circled. We finally called the Capitol information line and found that St. Paul’s Episcopal Church a couple of blocks away offers their parking lot for $5/hour. That’s a deal in downtown Richmond, if you can’t get a metered space.

The Virginia State Capitol was designed by Thomas Jefferson. It is magnificent. There are free guided tours or we could meander around on our own. The state legislators were not in session, but the halls themselves made us feel welcome.  As did the lovely lady at the information table in the rotunda.2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 284

I am not going to do a guided tour – you, like me, have your own level of interest in history. I have just captioned a few of the pictures I took. You should visit your state capitol. I came away with a much greater appreciation of the cost of liberty and the processes of state government.2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 250

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2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 247“Brothers” statue depicted the poignancy of reuniting after fighting on opposite sides of the Civil War.

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2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 279The stairwells and marble floors had the look of a grand hotel.

2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 260President George Washington – the only statue he posed for, they say; life-sized rendering. [Let me know if that’s a myth or not. The statue was definitely life-sized. That I could tell.]

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 After exiting the Capitol building, we made our way around the grounds to the Governor’s Mansion (which was open to the public).2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 307 2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 306

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The old meets the new in the Governor’s Mansion. Period antiques throughout the main floor and lacrosse sticks belonging to the Governor’s children at the front door.

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So many fascinating persons from our history displayed in portraits, statues, and busts. Many were of Confederate generals, US political figures, and foreign dignitaries. Then there were others of great and different import – civil rights champion Oliver W. Hill, Jr., and Pocahontas in pearls.

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We covered the Capitol Building, Governor’s Mansion, and grounds in 1 1/2 hours. That was fast. So if you’re visiting your state capitol, you might want to take more time. On our way back to the car, we stopped inside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (on the advisement of our new friend in the Capitol rotunda.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Richmond, Va

Photo Credit: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

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The sanctuary of the church was massive with stunning stained glass windows. The sun was pouring in and it was like a gallery of art pieces depicting the life of Christ. While we walked the perimeter of the church, the organist was at the keyboard of the pipe organ housed in the balcony of the church. Maybe he was practicing. For us it was like a private concert.2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 3152015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 323

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Our young newcomers who had stayed tuned in to our self-guided tour were done…as were their Mom and I. 2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 329

 Leaving downtown, we scooted around Virginia Commonwealth University to my favorite pizza joint there – Piccola Italy on Main.2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 3312015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 336

Now, you can take a morning to see Virginia’s State Capitol…or your own. I only visited the U.S. Capitol once, and never visited my home state’s Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia. Hopefully you can avoid getting lost and hit a homerun your first time out. It was a win for us, in the end, for sure.

Virginiacapitol.gov

Virginia Capitol Tourists’ Guide

A Self-Guided Tour of the Virginia State Capitol (pdf)

TripAdvisor – Virginia State Capitol Building

10 Buildings that Changed America

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia

Piccola Italy Pizza and Subs