What Story Will the Stained-Glass Windows Tell?
This Sunday, I will be preaching at the Installation Service of the new pastor at the Santa Monica Presbyterian Church. It is one of those things we do as pastors of a connectional denomination. When you are asked to assist another group of the faith family, you always say “yes.” Rev. Kikanza Nuri Robins will be preaching.
There are three beautiful stained-glass windows in the sanctuary of the old United University Church’s nave that overlooked the worshippers. When we vacated the church property, we also said goodbye to the three windows with great sadness. They were part of the structure, and we had to leave them behind. We have since learned that the Theatre Department will use the church building, but their new design does not have a role for the stained-glass windows. They contacted me to ask if we wanted them, and I said, “of course.” USC will incur all the costs of removing the windows, packing them, and delivering them to us. I have already talked to the architect, and he is ready to incorporate them into the new design.
As I thought about the image of Jesus of the stained-glass window, I wondered what he had seen over the years. He had seen the heydays of the church when the sanctuary was full of staff and faculty of the university community and the LGBTIQ+ undocumented Hispanic community without housing that found support and encouragement from the church community. I am also sure Jesus saw the troubled souls on their knees praying desperately for God’s gracious mercy to wash over them as well as the praises of those who have known the blessings beyond imagination.
I am sure Jesus also heard the glorious harmonies of the large choirs that reverberated the walls inviting the heavenly choirs of the angels to join them and the joyful songs of the contemporary band that moved the souls. Also were the cries of those whose hearts were torn apart by the pains of various life events as well as the celebrations of the joyful people. I am sure the stained-glass knows of the stories of the people of the former Methodist Episcopal Church, University Presbyterian Church, as well as the United University Church; it will also know our stories we are writing as the Hope on Union.
So, the question is, what stories will we tell? What stories are you writing? Will the stained-glass windows tell stories about how we provided hope for people in need in the community? Will the windows tell stories about how we stood in the gap of the racial and social divide in our community? Will the windows tell stories about how we restored the dignity of the poor? Will it tell the stories of how we stood in the gap and worked to care for the environment? Will it tell the story of how we gave people second chances at life through our café ministry?
Jesus is looking down upon us, through the stained-glass windows, and from the heavenly place above, but Jesus is seeing what story we are going to tell. Just as those who initially built the former UUC building during the height of the Great Depression to tell a story of God’s faithfulness, we will now continue to tell the story of God’s grace and mercy in our community.
So, whether Jesus is watching us from the stained-glass windows or heaven above, let us live our lives as people of faith and as the children of God to tell the story of God’s mercy and grace.