Stained Glass Windows
Each of the beautiful stained glass windows in the sanctuary represents one of Jesus’ disciples. The windows were installed in October of 2000. At the time, the Rev. Stephen Rehrig, Interim Pastor, wrote a short biography of each disciple, a description of the symbolism of the window, a devotional, and a prayer. These are included here and will be mounted next to the windows for your information and meditation.
James the Son of Zebedee
James the son of Zebedee is known by several names. He is called James the Greater, James the Major, James the Elder, and sometimes Boanerges (Son of Thunder). He is the older brother to John and the one referred to when speaking of the closest companions to Jesus, “Peter, James, and John.” The twelfth chapter of Acts states that King Herod put James to death by the sword, thus making him the first apostle to be martyred.
Church history and legend both tell of his missionary journeys to India and to Spain. So loved was he by those in Spain, that other stories depict his body being returned there for burial. Today he is the patron saint of Spain. Three scallops are the symbol for James signifying his missionary journeys. Sometimes a sword is added to remind us of his martyrdom.
For God to set us upon a task is for God to place within us the skill for accomplishment. There is no need to consider the impossibility of the task – that is God’s concern. Our focus should be limited to the faithful use of the resources, knowledge, and skill placed at our disposal. What makes our life a success is to do with it as Jesus did, present it to God as a living sacrifice. Then what becomes of our work is for God to decide, and to what ends He makes of us is left to his providential care.
Merciful Father, into your care I place my life. Do with it what you will or destroy me in the process. For it is only in surrendering my life that I will find it and when finding it that I will attain to the stature of Christ. Bend me to your control. Amen.
Thaddaeus is another disciple whose real name is unknown. Many believe that Jude or Judas may have been his name but it was changed by the early church to avoid confusing him with Iscariot. He was working by the Sea of Tiberias when Jesus called him to follow. One verse in the Bible is dedicated to Thaddaeus: “Lord, how is it you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”
Early church history tells of Peter appointing Thaddaeus over the islands of Syria and Edessa. Other sources speak to his journeys in Dacia. His symbol is a sailboat with a mast in the shape of a cross. This calls to mind the extensive missionary journeys which tradition holds he took with Simon. A legend tells of his being buried in Beirut.
It requires from us uncommon fortitude to stand as faithful guardians of our traditions and faith when the winds of culture blow strongly against us. Before one can walk out into the world, there must be a clear and confident sense as to what God is saying; and that can be wrought only through prayer and study. Then courage must be summoned to stand with God who often stands alone against the mores of our times. An honest adherence to the faith demands no less. Our faith stands on the precepts of God, not on our personal beliefs.
Gracious Lord, forgive me that I have not the convictions that my faith demands. The world is so loud, the temptations are so strong, and friends are so alluring that I live in them and not in you. Speak to me your will that my own may be deafened. Show me your way that my path may be sure. Only then can I stand strong against myself and live as your true child. Amen.
Throughout the history of the church, Matthias usually replaces Judas when dedicating or discussing memorials and remembrances to the Apostles. It is from Acts 1:15-26 that we learn the story concerning the election of Matthias.
The early church tells of his being sent to Damascus where the Jews, in 64A.D., stoned him to death for preaching Christ. Another story tells of his being beheaded in Ethiopia and being buried at Jerus. His symbol is an open Bible with a two-edged axe resting upon it. As with so many others, he died for preaching the Gospel.
When one looks around at the world, our culture, even the church which we each hold as dear, one must conclude that what is of norm is for God not to be in control. In a world where civility is more important than virtue, we have allowed ourselves to practice and profess things which we hold not as genuine. We allow behavior we know to be wrong because we want to get along. We keep silent in the face of untruth for fear of criticism. We do that which stands contrary to the foundations of our faith in the false belief that peace will be promoted. But if God is going to be in control of our life, then it often entails our standing for that which is not popular. When God is in control, we tend to do what is right; and what is right often positions itself in contrast to the mores of the times.
Almighty God, you know all: my lying down and my rising up; my joys and my sorrows; even the time of my beginning and the moment of my end. Continue with me through the length of it my days. Do not leave me to myself, for I fear that left alone I will not make it through this perilous journey of life. Amen.
Philip came from the same town as did Andrew and Peter, Bethsaida, on the Sea of Galilee. To Philip is credited the bringing of Nathanael to Jesus by advising him to come and judge for himself whether or not Jesus was the Messiah. And Philip was also a go-between for some of the Greeks who desired an audience with Jesus. But it is Philip’s words on two other occasions for which he is mostly remembered.
As Passover approached, Jesus was going up on a mountain and 5,000 people gathered around to hear him teach. Jesus turned to Philip and asked, “How are we to buy bread so that these people may eat?” Philip, never imagining the impossible, replies, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” Then later in the ministry, when Jesus is teaching of the Father and his relationship to Him, Philip states, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
The symbol for Philip consists of a Latin cross with a loaf of bread under each cross arm and five fish descending behind the cross. Although there is no historical evidence that Philip was crucified, church legend maintains that he was, thus the inclusion of the cross. The two loaves of bread and the five fish remind us of the part Philip played in the feeding of the 5,000 when Jesus did “show us the Father.”
There are many people who believe that to serve Christ they must go somewhere and do something; they must be seen and heard by others. They imagine that to minister for Christ must involve teaching a class, visiting the sick, aiding the downtrodden, or journeying to foreign shores to do missionary work. These are all important ministries; they are beautiful in their spirit and Christ does need them done. But the first place that He is served is within yourself. The blessed light of Christ must first illuminate the darkness within you, thereby giving light to the most sacred of all spots – the human heart. Only then are you ready to become a blessing to those around you and Christ is truly served.
Lord, how do I hear your voice when the noise of the world rages around me? How do I see you leading when society darkens my path and speaks only of self? Help me to seek out that quiet corner in which to rest and that lonely field where I might sit. Only then can I find true refreshment and nurture in the strength of God. Amen.
Simon of Cananaean
This Simon is also known as Simon the Zealot because of his radical behavior toward Rome. Other than appearing in the list of Apostles, he is never mentioned again in the New Testament.
Church history claims Simon to have been the successor to James the Just as Bishop of Jerusalem. Other stories tell of his martyrdom by being “sawn asunder.” His symbol is a fish on a Bible. It refers to his success in fishing for men through the power of the Gospel.
There is a trend in our world today of saying what is on one’s mind. Acceptability says that frankness, in the name of honesty, is good. Less violent behavior results when people express their emotions verbally. That which might otherwise be deemed impertinent or cruel is approved of when disguised as honest, helpful criticism which, in turn, could lead a person to growth.
As true disciples of Christ, we have no right to say what we think unless those thoughts are loving and grace-filled. We certainly have no right to unload upon another our perceptions which do no more than hold, in truth, our own jealousies and envies. We all have, from time to time, ugly and unkind thoughts toward others; but it is our responsibility to keep those locked within ourselves. It used to be taught that discretion was the better part of valor. It is also the better part of being Christian.
Lord, we are called through the scriptures to be as Christ to one another. We are to always love one another; therefore, all words and deeds are born out of this love – love for them and love for you. But how can we truly love our neighbor as ourselves, if we do not love you first? Help me to fall in love with you – all over again. Amen.
Early church legend holds that Peter was crucified on the same day that Paul was beheaded in Rome. However, unwilling to die in a like manner as Jesus, he had his executioners place the cross upside down. For this reason, Peter is often symbolized by an upside down Latin cross.
However, the more universal symbol for Peter is two keys crossed to form an X. The intent is to keep the church mindful of what Jesus said to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” So the two keys represent Peter’s power to “bind” and to “loose.”
Like the silence of a shadow, there emits from each of us a measure of effect on those around us. Whether intentional or not, we cause direction to be taken, convictions to be swayed and guidance to be had. A day cannot be lived without touching and influencing some other life. For better or for worse, our shadow falls across the path of another.
The Christian, therefore, bears the responsibility of a Christ-like life – noble, beautiful and holy. For if we ourselves become a living benediction, then inspiration is our mantle and a Godly influence our crest.
Perhaps when Jesus prayed, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” it had more to do with how we absolve others for their eternal well-being and less to do with anything about our self.
O Lord, my soul is such a small thing, enlarge it. My soul is so cold, enflame it. I am such an ambivalent person, clay-footed and something less than I know I should be. I want to believe fully, but I find that I cannot fully believe; because though my spirit is willing my flesh remains weak.
However, in you, O Lord, I can do all things. By your grace I can be transformed into “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Grant me such grace, and in your power may I be as Christ to others. Amen.
It is from Matthew, Mark and Luke that we get the name Bartholomew. John relays to us the name of Nathanael. We do not know this apostles whole name. It is commonly held that Nathanael and Bartholomew are the same person. Was his name Nathanael Bartholomew? Some have thought so.
Outside of appearing in the list of disciples, little is known of Bartholomew. Church tradition reports him preaching Christ in India. Mesopotamia, Persia, Lycaonia and Armenia also are storied to have been frequented by his journeys – some with Philip and others with Thomas.
Many stories survive concerning the death of Bartholomew, but the most prominent tells of his winning King Polymus of Armenia to Christ. As a result of this, the king’s brother became so angry with Bartholomew that he had him flayed, crucified upside down, and even beheaded. The symbol for Bartholomew is three flaying knives to remember how he died.
We as Christians profess that we believe ourselves to be under obligation to shape and influence the world’s institutions so that they conform to God’s purposes. This means not accepting the world as it is and not bowing to its pressures for approval.
So why are we apologetic for our actions? Why do we allow the world to control what we do and what we say? The Christian agenda in the modern world is being set by the society in which the church exists, not by the church. The question is being raised as to whether the Christian has the right to tell institutions and groups that what is being said or done by them is not right. We are being told that we do not possess the right of judgment. Yes, we do possess the right. And not only do we possess the right, but, what is more, we are under the obligation.
Lord, you call us to paths unknown and place before our lives tasks beyond our understanding. But you know all. You know history from its beginning to its end, and within that scope you know our small part. Help us to seek our role and with grace to accept what part we play therein. For if you deem it right, then how can we be less than fulfilled. Amen.
Matthew was named Levi and was busy collecting taxes on merchandise being carried over the Damascus-Acre road when Jesus called to him, “Follow me.” It was to those two, simple words that he set everything aside and followed. Not much else is known about Matthew. Some believe that due to his connections as a publican, he was able to act as a go-between for many in that community who sought to see Jesus.
Most believe that Matthew died a natural death, although there is a late legend which tells of his going to Ethiopia where he was crucified and beheaded. His symbol is usually three money bags or a treasure chest, although sometimes a battle-axe is added for his death.
If God’s will is perfect as we confess it to be, then we should be submissive to that will. We must be able to acknowledge our own ignorance and never presume to know the will of God. We should ask Him to teach us and open us to receive what lessons He deems appropriate for us to know. It is a life lived in accordance with His desires – even His commands. It is in this way that the Christian will find blessings abound.
O Lord, keep me mindful that if my faith were nothing but comfort, calling from me no self-denial, no sacrifice, or no earnest choices, then what would be its depths? But with you there is struggle, and in that effort is revealed to me the abyss of your mystery and the measure of my belief. In your mercy, do not let go of me. Amen.
Thomas is also known by the name of “Didymus,” which means “twin.” However, the church is at a loss to understand whose twin he was or why he is given the name. Thomas is best remembered for his questioning the resurrection. “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” For this, he forever became know as “Doubting Thomas.”
Legend holds that through Thomas’ own efforts, a church building was erected in India where Thomas preached and enjoyed much success in converts. Among those whom he converted was Queen Tertia, wife to King Midsai. Outraged that his wife converted, the King had Thomas put to death. Therefore, the symbols for Thomas are a carpenter’s square, for his being a builder, and a spear for his death.
The best of our faith is but a small cup of what we need; that is all the depth we possess. Therefore, we must go to God daily. For should we fail to come into His presence and the world continue to tax and siphon what little faith we have, then far too soon the reservoir becomes dry and we have no defense against the world’s alluring calls. Only by quiet, trustful faith in God and obedience to Him at every step are we defended from life. Tomorrow will bring no harm. Those who do God’s will each day hide beneath His wings as the storms of life rage around. Live this day, do this day’s work, enjoy this day’s blessings, and God will keep you tomorrow.
Almighty God, I try so hard to have faith, yet uncertainties rise within me. I know to trust in you, yet anxieties live anyway. I want to have control of my life, even when I know that I shouldn’t. May my doubts cause me to work at my faith in the knowledge that nothing good comes easily. I do believe in you. Abide in my unbelief as I walk though this life. Amen.
James the Son of Alphaeus
Due to his small physical stature, James is also known as James the Less, James the Little, or James the Minor. Since Matthew is also named Levi, son of Alphaeus, some believe that he and this James were brothers. This is highly unlikely.
The most prominent tradition concerning James tells of him being thrown from the temple by the Pharisees at the age of 96. Upon his landing in the courtyard, a mob stoned him and then dismembered him. A saw, handle end up, recalls his being dismembered.
The old preachers assured that in faithfulness does the Lord afflict us. In so stating comes the affirmation that the Lord does afflict. The Lord who knows all and orders all enters into our lives for the purpose of bringing about torment, calamity, grief, pain, loss — all of those disquieting attributes of life. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,” the psalmist states.
Yet, how can this be considered without the element of faith? How can we know the faithfulness of God to His ways, His judgments, His ever-constant presence; the faith He shows in us knowing of our steadfastness and the ability to remain true to Him; and the faith we build within ourselves as we faithfully bear the Lord’s afflicting? Only through faith do we see it to be the Lord’s hand at work and know it to be for our own good. Are not His ways just? Is not His desire to humiliate and humble the proud heart? It is a far better thing to bear the Lord’s affliction than to go through life unafflicted. One builds character — the other sloth.
Almighty God, as I look at my life, help me to see your abiding hand therein. Where there is trouble, may the justice of your ways be known. Where hardship prevails, may the righteousness of your judgments bear forth. In all that I know through life my simple prayer is this, that your presence with me be forever. Amen.
Andrew and Simon Peter were brothers who shared a business as fishermen. It was to them that Jesus first said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” History tells us that rather than being nailed to a cross, Andrew was tied to it, his persecutors desiring to prolong the suffering.
The symbol for Andrew is an X, also known as the Saint Andrews Cross or the saltire cross. It is the national cross of Scotland. Sometimes he is represented by two fish in the form of a cross or by the holding of two fish in his hands. The cross is to remind us that Andrew was crucified for his faith, and the fish recalls his life as a fisherman.
When God says to us “Follow me,” it is for the doing of His will. Too often, though, we set out to accomplish our own will instead. Is it right for us to insist on having our own way and to press on toward our own desired ends? When God calls us to “Follow,” is that not precisely what He means, to follow? He does not mean to lead. He does not even mean for you to seek His approval to your desires. What God intends is that we seek out His will and make it our own. Only God knows what is best for us, and only the life commended to His superior wisdom will be a blessing to anyone, including oneself.
Eternal God, when days are dark and filled with deep uncertainty, I seek you out in order that I might know comfort and resolution. But when times are bright and the future is filled with prospect, I look to myself to lay out the paths my life will follow. Forgive me, Dear Father, and cause me to know your care through all of life. May I not look to you for guidance only in times when life’s pain swells about me, but especially in seasons of ease, for surely then, when left to myself, many of life’s trials are born. Amen.
John is the other son of Zebedee, and who the Bible refers to as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Though he is also one of the “Son’s of Thunder,” John is known as being a very quiet and thoughtful person. It is believed that following the death of Jesus, John provided for Mary a home where she lived out the remainder of her life.
To John is attributed one of the more fun legends. An attempt was made on his life, but it proved unsuccessful when the poison intended to kill him turned into a serpent and slithered away. Thus his symbol is that of a serpent rising out of a chalice.
But when we look deeper, there is even more to the symbol. The serpent, which represents the power of evil, is rising up from the chalice, which holds the blood of Christ. God has defeated evil. “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Many people think that if they give their heart to Christ and work faithfully for God then, in turn, they deserve or will have a contention-free life. But God never promises that He will take trials out of life. The Christian will never know the entire world to be in agreement with him or her. The Christian will still hear unkind words of distain and contempt. The Christian will still experience those of a narrow and self-seeking nature, those who find fault and those who criticize. The Christian will still know jealousy, pettiness, and hatred. God does not place about the Christian an impregnable wall then say to the world, “this soul you may not touch.” But what God does do is say to that soul, “Be still. Be calm, and know that I am God.” Then, by such words as these, tranquility is found and peace is known.
O Lord, I pray my soul be still before you and I listen for your voice. Where it comes in pain, may I endure. Where it comes in joy, may I be thankful. Where it comes in the winding and twisting paths of life, may I look for you around each bend of the way. And when I come to the end of my days, may I hear the assurance of your ever- abiding love. Amen.