Stained Glass Windows
The Three Crosses
These windows depict the crucifixion of our Lord. The central cross, the cross of Christ, dominates the portrayal, being larger than the other two and the only one of the three set off by a full arch. The half-arches of the two smaller crosses tie them in thematically with the larger, completing the representation of the scene at Golgotha.
"They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’) …They crucified Him there, along with the criminals – one on His right, the other on His left."
(Mark 15:22; Luke 23:33)
This window depicts the all-creating Hand of God suspended above the earth, the sun, the moon, and the stars as “creatures” of God. John recorded how creation came to be: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:1, 3-5) – nor overcome it.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ (Genesis 1:1-5a)
This window depicts the newborn Christ child lying in a manger. Centered above the nativity scene and prominently displayed, is the natal star which led the eastern Magi to Bethlehem. Likewise, the star leads us to the Christ child. We too are overjoyed and bow down to worship Him.
“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. …[An] angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream and said, ‘…[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because He will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord has said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ – which means, ‘God with us.’”
(Matthew 1:18, 20, 21-23)
This window depicts three rugged, wooden crosses. Christ's cross, the central cross, is larger than the other two and appears in the foreground. It is further identified by bearing the notice which Pontius Pilate had fastened above His head which read: “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KINGS OF THE JEWS.”
“[The soldiers] stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand. Then they knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ they said.” (Matthew 27:28-30)
“They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’) …They crucified Him there, along with the criminals – one on His right, the other on His left.” (Mark 15:22; Luke 23:33)
This window depicts a solitary rugged, wooden cross flanked by Easter lilies which are an expression of new life and symbolize our Lord's resurrection from the dead. Instead of bearing Christ’s crown of thorns, marking it as the instrument of His self-sacrifice and death, this cross is draped by the linen which clothed Christ’s body for His entombment. This winding sheet was all Peter and John found of Jesus when they raced to His tomb early that first Easter morning. When John saw it, he believed.
Truly, JESUS IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! Hallelujah!
“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.’” (Matthew 28:5-6)
Though this window does not actually depict our Lord’s ascension, it does depict Christ's lustrous crown of glory which symbolizes our victorious, risen, and ascended Lord. This window depicts the very Lamb of Glory of whom the angels sing, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12) Behold, He was dead, but now He lives forever and ever.
With His blood, Christ purchased all sons and daughters for God “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). He has made us to be a kingdom and priesthood of believers to serve our God, and we will live with Him as our King forevermore.
“While He was blessing them, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight.” (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9)
This window depicts the Word of God, illustrated by the open Bible with the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet (Alpha and Omega) emblazoned on either half. The lamp of truth, wisdom, and knowledge alights the Bible with its eternal flame. Truly God’s Word “is a lamp unto [our] feet and a light for [our] path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Christ is the beginning and end of God’s Word. He is the Incarnate Word that is the fulfillment of the Old and New Testament Scriptures.
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word.” (Hebrews 1:1-3a)
This window depicts God’s Law, represented by the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. In the foreground of the window lies an open Bible. This is especially fitting as every Word of Holy Writ is divisible into one of two chief doctrines, either The Law or The Gospel. God’s sacramental presence is signified in the depiction of Mount Sinai and the burning bush in the background – the same burning bush on Mount Sinai by which God got Moses’ attention and drew him to Himself, and by which He identified Himself to His servant and commissioned and outfitted him for His service.
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29-30)
This window depicts the cross of Christ in the center, just as it is central to our salvation in Jesus Christ. Everything depends on the cross and the crucified, risen, and ascended Savior. The scroll has the chi-rho, the symbol for Christ, which signifies “the Word” of the Gospel as found in the Holy Scriptures. The baptismal shell and three drops of water signifies the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. The wafer and cup of Holy Communion signifies the Sacrament of the Altar. The gold Kingdom Key signifies the Gospel which looses our sin-bound, penitent souls, and locks out hell, unlocking heaven for heaven-sent, sinner-saints. The descending dove signifies the Holy Spirit whom Christ poured out on us at Pentecost because we cannot save ourselves. The praying hands signify the grateful response of God’s faithful people to His saving acts on their behalf.
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16a)
This window depicts Christ's cross behind the baptismal shell and three drops of water. Saint Paul tells us what Holy Baptism signifies: “…[Don’t] you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3-4) This union with Christ in death and resurrection through baptism into Him is illustrated by His cross.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18b-20)
This window depicts a wheat stock, grape bunch, communion wafer, and communion cup. The wheat and grapes signify the communion bread and wine, while the wafer and cup signifies Christ's very body and blood. In the Small Catechism, Martin Luther says: “It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.”
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is My body.' Then He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'" (Matthew 26:26-28)
The Office of the Keys
This window depicts the two kingdom keys Christ talks about, positioned in front of Christ's cross. The gray key is the binding key, which is the Law, God’s judgement and wrath on hardened sinners, binding them in their sins and punishing them accordingly as long as they do not repent. This key locks the impenitent out of heaven and into hell. The gold key is the loosing key, which is the Gospel of forgiveness, declared to those who confess their sins. This key locks out hell and opens heaven to all repentant sinners.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth [has been] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth [has been] loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)
“If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:23)
This window depicts the ark, which signifies the church. Truly, the ark is the ship of faith, the new covenant, buoyed up by the waters of Holy Baptism. It carries its precious cargo of redeemed souls to the distant shores of God’s heavenly port, the New Jerusalem. It is also a battleship carrying embattled sailors. Saint Paul tells us to “fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.” (1 Timothy 1:18-19) If we stay on board and stay the course, we’ll rest in safe haven at the end of our voyage.
“[You] are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
The Eye of God – The Holy Trinity
This window depicts the omnipresent, all-seeing Eye of God, blue as the heavens themselves. It's ringed by a golden circle reminiscent of the unity and unbroken eternity of the one true God. It's set within a golden triangle whose three equal sides show the three divine Persons pertaining to the Godhead, the Holy Three-In-One – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Radiating from this are three clusters of golden rays evoking the first light of creation and Light that overcame the darkness of a fallen world by the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ.
“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)
A Mighty Fortress in Our God
This window depicts a sturdy fortress which represents our Lord, Jesus Christ.
“A mighty Fortress is our God, a trusty Shield and Weapon; He helps us free from every need that hath us now o'ertaken the old evil foe now means deadly woe; deep guile and great might are his dread arms in fight on earth is not His equal. With might of ours can naught be done. Soon were our loss effected; but for us fights the Valiant One, whom God Himself elected. Ask ye, Who is this? Jesus Christ it is, of Sabaoth Lord, and there’s none other God; He holds the field forever.” (Martin Luther, 1529)
Luther's Coat of Arms
This window depicts a black cross, placed in a red heart, resting on the center of the Messianic Rose (symbolic of the promised Messiah) that has its petals outlined by red with a heavenly blue background, and surrounded by a golden circle to symbolize eternity. This symbol was adopted by Martin Luther as his own Coat of Arms and as an expression of trust in God.
Indeed, the Christian’s heart is cruciform, marked as it is by the dear Savior’s cross, even as Christians themselves rest secure in Him, reposing peacefully in His “it is finished,” confidently awaiting their own resurrection to eternal life in Him.