Rose Window

Stained glass art has long been a powerful medium for spreading the Gospel. In earlier times, when education was rare among the masses, most people were illiterate. The beautiful windows in churches and cathedrals brought to life the biblical stories and introduced the biblical characters to Christians who weren’t able to read the Bible for themselves. The magnificent stained glass windows in Medieval cathedrals of Europe still inspire worshipers today.

When plans were made to build a new sanctuary at Bluff Park, it quickly became apparent that there were two things the people of our congregation wanted in this new place of worship. One was a pipe organ, and the other was stained glass windows. After considerable discussion, we decided that the theme of the windows should be “The Life of Christ.” The windows would tell His story from the Nativity through the Ascension and His exaltation as Lord of All Creation.

Let us look at how this scene is depicted in the window. Look at the circular images around the circumference of the window.

  • In the upper left-hand area is a leopard alongside a kid, or a young goat. Ordinarily a leopard would attack a kid, but the two are there together in peace.
  • Across from it in the upper right-hand area is a wolf and lamb together. These two are normally mortal enemies. Wolves eat lambs. But not here.
  • Below this image is a lion and calf. We would think the calf would be afraid of the lion, but there’s no fear. It’s a scene of harmony.
  • Directly across are two small children playing with a snake. This is from verse 8, that talks about a child playing over the hole of an asp and putting a hand on the adder’s den. The asp and the adder are poisonous snakes. Their bite could kill a child, but there’s no problem here. The children are perfectly safe.
  • In the lower left-hand area is a bear, and in the lower right hand area is a cow. Isaiah said they graze side by side, and their young lie down together.
  • At the bottom is a child. A little child shall lead them. Not a king, not a general, not a priest, but a child – one without earthly power. A child isn’t able to compel or force anybody to do anything. People follow willingly.

The window shows us Isaiah’s vision of the Messianic kingdom. It’s a kingdom of peace and harmony, where everybody gets along together like God intended. It’s a kingdom of love and kindness, where people care about each other and help one another.

The rose window presents Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision of an ideal world. It happens as He is exalted. Everything God planned in Creation is accomplished in Him.

There are two levels of meaning in this message. One is personal and individual. The other is corporate and social.

On the personal level, the way to find a victorious and abundant life is to make Jesus Christ our Lord. He brings order out of chaos. He enables us to be a peace within ourselves and to get along the best we can with those around us. In harmony with Him, everything in our lives falls into place. The key is to recognize and accept His lordship.

On the social level, we have the assurance that ultimately love is stronger than hate, right is stronger than wrong, truth is stronger than falsehood, good is stronger than evil. God is working out His purposes in the world. The final outcome is assured. One day the kind of world Isaiah envisioned will be a reality. And we can work with God to make it happen. And we can experience something of it even now.

What a beautiful vision. What a magnificent promise. What a glorious hope. And every time we enter this sanctuary, we’ll have this rose window to remind us of how life can be and of how the world some day will be.