The Stained Glass Windows of Unionville Reformed Church
Stained glass windows are not in the tradition of the Reformed Church of America. The Reformed Church, having blossomed out of the Reformation, took a back to basics philosophy. You see, unlike the large, ornate cathedrals of the Roman Catholic church, the Reformed Church was a plain structure, devoid of statues, massive columns of architecture, and stained glass windows that turned one's eyes and thoughts away from Christ. It was a plain building, with clear glass windows and bare walls.
In 1924, the congregation at the Union Dutch Reformed Church decided to install stained glass windows in time for their centennial celebration the following year. I'm sure there was much discussion in these hallowed halls regarding the entry of stained glass. And although our forefathers may have side-stepped Reformed tradition a bit, they certainly gave much thought to the form and subject of the windows.
The windows of our church do more than illuminate the sanctuary with color and light. They tell a story. For if you enter the sanctuary from the street, the salvation message is presented you, frame by frame, until you reach the altar. Anyone looking for true worship can enter in through the story that these windows tell.
These photos speak to the individual design of each window. But there is more to the story. Each window has flowers in the foreground. First come the tulips. They represent our Dutch heritage. Lilies are often used to refer to man. "Consider the lilies how they grow, they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these"ÂÂ (Matthew 6:28-29). The two flowers represent the Dutch people, and the rest of the populace that live and work in this little hamlet. The skies are also worthy of note. They depict both clear and troubled skies. This faith that we have is not a promise of clear skies and easy sailing. The windows testify to a people that know their God in good times and in bad. Last, but not least, is the ground in the background. Note that there is flat land, and mountains that grace the backdrop. Whether we walk by still water, or climb to the mountaintop, God is there.
You see, there is a testimony in these simple pieces of colored glass, held together with lead and wood. A testimony in glass of a loving and mighty God.
An Introduction to God
Our journey toward worship begins in our learning who God is. He is Creator of the universe, Master of all creation. Yet, amid all this, He loves us. We begin, then, with fundamental truths that build the foundation of our faith.
In this world of tumult, only God stands as an anchor, steadfast and unchanging. Hebrews 6:19 puts it this way: "Which Hope we have as an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast." Christ is the foundation that anchors our faith. In a world where truth seems relative, God's truth stands firm and unchanged by time or opinion.
2 Samuel 22:29 says: "For Thou art my Lamp, O Lord; and the Lord will lighten my darkness."Â And from Psalms 119:105: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."Â For those who walk in darkness, Christ stands as a lighthouse, shining into the night, beckoning the weary sailor home. If we are to come to Christ, we must acknowledge that He first comes to us, and lights the way of salvation. It is here that our journey begins, anchored to the truth, and beckoned by the light of His love for us.
Christ, The Lamb of God
Jews had always offered sacrifice to God. They would take a lamb, and kill it on an altar to atone for their sins. God sent Jesus, His only son, to be the sacrificial lamb. The price for our sin was paid through His sacrifice upon the cross. Once for all, Jesus paid the price. As we prepare to worship, it is essential that we recognize Jesus for who He is. As it is written in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
The lamb was the animal of sacrifice to the Jews. It is no wonder, then, that Jesus was called a lamb, for it was by His sacrifice we are reconciled with God. John announced Jesus this way in John 1:29. "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."
.John 1:1 says it all: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." The Bible is more than just a collection of writings, or a story to be told. Christians know that the Bible is key to our relationship with God. God speaks through the Scriptures, and spending time in the Word is spending time with God Himself.
When Christ was crucified, He paid the price for our sin, once for all. In the sacrament of communion, we remember the words that Jesus spoke as He shared the Passover meal with His disciples.
As we take communion, it is a time to reflect upon God's calling in our life. Not that we should again come under the burden of our sinful nature, but rather to reflect upon the price that was paid for our salvation, and what our continued response should be. If we wish to worship God, then we need not only to accept the sacrifice Jesus made, but respond to it.
“The Lord Jesus the same night He was betrayed took bread; And when He had given thanks, broke it, and said, Take, eat: This is my body which is broken for you. This do in remembrance of Me" 1 Corinthians 11:23-24
“After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood. This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me' 1 Corinthians 11:25
The Glory of God
When we have accepted the free gift of God in salvation, we are ready to begin our true worship experience. Because of Jesus sacrifice, we can enter in to the very throne room of God, and worship Him in all His Glory!
Hebrews 2:9 “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor: that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man." King of Kings, Lord of Lords.
The cross is empty, because Jesus rose from death. A symbol that reminds us of the price of salvation, yet a symbol of rejoicing. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2