The Sunday Sermonette – The Stained Glass of Life. 

The first four months of the New Year are some of my favorites. Yes, there are those dreary days of rain and darkness. However, the sun always breaks through the dark clouds, spreading its warmth into the marrow of our bones. Each time I watch the sunlight shimmering through my stained glass rose window, I’m reminded of the awe-inspiring stained glass I saw in the great cathedrals of England and Scotland. And the stained glass of St. Giles Cathedral was no exception.  

     Walking through its arched east entrance for the first time, under the watchful carved eyes of Scottish monarchs and churchmen, I was greeted by the cathedral’s soaring, trunk-like pillars that support its carved, ribbed ceiling. The gentle play of the afternoon sunlight cascading through the stained glass created a mosaic of multicolored light on the worn, cold stone floor. I found a quiet place to sit and contemplate the grandeur of the cathedral’s stained glass.

     The light streaming through stained glass is never stationary. In the course of the day, it is ever-changing, its lacy patterns wandering across the floor, inviting your thoughts to wander with them. Stained glass was an essential element in the architecture of ancient churches. It illuminated the building and the people within, literally and spiritually. The vast canvases of glass, with their biblical scenes and faces, shed light on the eternal themes of Christian salvation. They allowed God’s light into the church.

     In Psalms, light is a metaphor for God’s work in our lives. That light directs us, keeping us on the right path toward Home. When light enters, darkness retreats and we can see clearly. Physical blindness affects many people. But there is a greater blindness, the blindness of disbelief. Choosing to walk in spiritual blindness robs an individual of a rich, harmonious life with God and Jesus.   

      At its core, the metaphor of God as light represents the interaction between illumination and shadows, clarity, as opposed to mystery, and it mirrors the intricate dance between the known and the unknown, the visible and the concealed.

     In the stained glass of life, lest we forget John Donne’s poem, “Light of the World,” about Jesus, who came to bring the light of God’s life into a spiritually dark and dying world.

                I am the Light of the world,

                Whose radiance dispels the darkest night,

                A beacon of hope in the shadows unfurled,

                With me, your path is always bright. 

                 In darkness, I offer a steadfast glow,

                Guiding lost souls to heavenly shores.

                 From sin’s hold, I’ll help you let go,

                 Embrace my light, forevermore.

Ponder this and go forth.  

St. Giles’ front entrance.
St. Giles’ interior.
Dancing sunlight on the floor of St. Giles.