Independent Presbyterian Church
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Stained Glass Windows of Independent Presbyterian Church
These are windows that bring light to the soul.
photo above by Mason Fischer Photography
The following is from the book, The Sanctuary Stained Glass Windows of The Independent Presbyterian Church by Carol Lukens Hall, IPC member and daughter of Dr. John Lukens, third pastor of IPC (1948-1967).
"To pattern light and articulate it with color," is the purpose of stained glass, according to Charles Connick. Stained glass is the glorification of color. As windows were gradually added to the sanctuary, the light was enriched; the jeweled fragments provide a diffused radiance filling the Sanctuary. These are windows that bring light to the soul.
The language of faith, symbolism, has been an integral aspect of the visual arts since the beginning of Christian art. Stained glass, therefore, is important not only for the beauty, light and color it imparts, but as an instrument of teaching. Thus windows have a didactic purpose.
In order to understand the message the windows are teaching, however, we need to know and understand the meaning of the symbols depicted. Symbolism is a beautiful sign language, which, when correctly interpreted, reveals the cardinal elements of the Christian faith, teaching and tradition. We look not at symbols, but through symbols, to the truth they represent. A religious symbol points beyond itself to a reality; it is a means by which faith expresses itself when it interprets the holy,the eternal, the beyond.
Dr. Henry M. Edmonds, in a dedicatory prayer for a window, said: "All beauty is thine, O God, thine is the pageantry of the seasons, thine is the glittering gates of the morning and evening..., We devise forms of beauty to provide a voice which shall speak to generation after generation." Stained glass is truly a form of beauty.
Literature Window in the Sacristry
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)
Literature as a mode of worship is the oldest of art forms to be used to glorify our Lord. The accounts of the Old Testament, the Psalms of David, the Gospels and letters of the New Testament form a nucleus of inspiration for centuries of artists. Poets, writers, teachers and students praise, teach and are taught by the power of the Word.
The central figure in this window is presented with arms poised to continue writing, represented by the quill and scroll which is inscribed with the Latin words meaning, "The Word of the Lord abides for ever." (Isaiah 40:8) The vibrancy and movement of the design in the draperies and pose suggest a vitality of creative energy. Above the figure, the force of divine inspiration is represented by a figure whose hair repeats the flowing movements below.
The lower part of the window contains symbols of literature: a book, the Bible, inscribed "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:14); the Gutenburg press; a ship representing the mission of the church to spread the Word; an inkwell and plume; and the Celtic cross, our Presbyterian heritage. The owl is a symbol for the person who was memorialized.
Sanctuary Side Aisle Transom Windows
Including Symbols of the Trinity
These windows are unique as outside light does not illuminate them, and they are viewed from both sides. Thus, the glass is transparent, and the images must be reversible, able to be read from either side.
Four Archangels appear in the transom windows. On the east aisle (left, above) are pictured Michael and Raphael. On the west aisle (left, below) are depicted Gabriel and Uriel. Michael, the protector of the Church, is shown in armor carrying scales. Raphael, the guardian of humanity, is dressed in pilgrim attire (robe, belt and sandals) and carries staff and gourd. There is the star of Bethlehem indicating it is he who brought the news to the shepherds of the birth of Christ. These two support the throne of God. Shown are two symbols of the Trinity (center panel, with entwined circles and equilateral triangle).
On the west transom window appears Gabriel, chief messenger of God, holding a lily (angel of annunciation) and Uriel, "light of God," carrying two scrolls. Pictured is the alpha and the omega and more geometric symbols of the Trinity, (including the stylized shamrock which St. Patrick is said to have used to illustrate the Trinity). (excerpts from Sanctuary Stained Glass Windows by Carol Lukens Hall)
The Thomas Window
"The Thomas Window (left) is found in the stairwell going to West Transept balcony (left and up two steps by the Baptismal Font)... The moment captured in glass is that when Thomas verifies His Lord is indeed risen. He gestures to the wound in the pierced side of Jesus and the nail imprints in His hand. Symbols in the field include a carpenter's square (Thomas was a builder of churches in India) and the lance with which he was martyred. Two crosses are pictured: the anchor cross - our faith in Christ holds steady (as the anchor) in a storm - and the pointed cross of suffering. The red of the latter cross is contrasted with green, the color of new life and hope."
"But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord.' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.' A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you.' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe. Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.'" John 20: 24-29