Stained Glass Windows (September 13, 2012)

…Opening To…

Look upon me, O Lord, and let all the darkness of my soul vanish before the beams of your brightness. (Saint Augustine of Hippo)

…Listening In…

God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6; context)

…Filling Up…

We turn our discussion of light this week to a substance through which light shines. Have you ever wondered why churches have stained glass windows? You don’t see many stained glass windows in secular buildings or in private homes, and you certainly can’t find them for sale at Home Depot. No – churches pretty much have the market cornered on stained glass.

Leaving aside the fact that these windows are pretty and make interesting patterns of light dance across the floor, the purpose for stained glass has since medieval times been to tell stories. When most of the population was illiterate, the best way to teach the Bible was to tell it in picture form in the windows of churches. While some windows are purely decorative, in many the glass takes sunlight and bends it to tell a story. Each panel contains glass of various pigments and shapes, and strung together the light shining through shows scenes from Jesus’ life or images of the saints or other stories.

But I think that another reason that churches have stained glass windows is to remind the people who enter those churches that we are also a type of stained glass. Paul says that God shines in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. God shines in our hearts.

Our hearts can be dim, dank places, but God’s light penetrates them and roots out all that darkness. When our hearts are bright, we can ask God to make us windows so that the light will shine forth from us. But we aren’t just any old windows. We are stained glass. God’s light shines from us each uniquely – our individual gifts and personalities and yearnings act as the panels of colored glass. Through these beautiful panes, God tells the story of how God is moving in our lives. So shine with the knowledge that God’s light has reached your heart. And be radiant.

…Praying For…

Dear God, thank you for shining your light in my heart. Help me to radiate that light forth from myself so that others may know that I am yours. Give me the grace to brighten the lives of all I meet; in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, knowing that you are a light that never goes out. You are always shining on the path that takes me home.

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