The windows in our church are particularly beautiful, but they are not just there for beauty. They also teach us something. These images depict scenes from the Bible that give glory to God.
We have four sets of three windows in our sanctuary, which flank the large windows behind our altar. In the center of each of these four sets is a window depicting one of the four Evangelists. (The four Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, each of whom wrote one of the four Gospels in the New Testament.)
As you face the altar, to your far left you see the window commemorating St. Matthew, a man with wings. (This image emphasizes the humanity of Christ). This window was presented by Ella Seibold in loving memory of her husband Emil.
In the center of the next set of windows you see an image of a winged lion, which commemorates St. Mark. (This window symbolizes the royalty of Christ.) This window was presented by Clara Renz in loving memory of her husband Carl.
As you face the altar and look to your right, you see the window commemorating St. Luke, a bull with wings. (This window represents the sacrifice of Christ.) This window was presented by Marie Wilder in loving memory of her husband Carl.
To the far right you see the window commemorating St. John, a winged eagle. (This window symbolizes the soaring inspiration of Christ.) This window was presented by Irene Lockyer in loving memory of her husband M. Edward.
These windows that depict the four Evangelists remind us all at Gloria Dei that the Word of God is our great treasure. Our congregation bases its teaching and preaching solely on the Word of God. We preach Christ crucified. The account of Jesus’ death and resurrection is written in these four Gospels, and by God’s grace we will never tire of speaking or hearing this Good News. These windows remind us of what Jesus did for us. They remind us that the Holy Spirit inspired Matthew, Mark Luke and John, so that the Gospels they wrote are the inerrant Word of God. These windows are also a testimony from the Church that has gone before us, that they drew their faith from these Gospels and a call to us today to continue in that path.
But how is it that these images of a winged man, lion, bull and eagle came to commemorate the four Evangelists? To find the answer we have to go to Revelation 4 and 5. In these chapters, St. John is in the Spirit, having a vision of the throne room of heaven. In Chapter 4 John sees the Father on His throne, and, “…around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
The four living creatures appear again in Revelation 5, where they sing a hymn of praise to the Lamb of God (Jesus) as He is coronated before the Father’s throne. They say, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Rev 5:9,10)
When the early Church fathers read these verses, they were united in understanding that these four living creatures represent the four Evangelists. Irenaeus, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine and many other early fathers all embraced this understanding. Early Christian art in catacombs and ancient churches often depicts Jesus in glory surrounded by paintings of the four living creatures, which look very similar to our windows at Gloria Dei.
These four living creatures surround the throne of God and praise him forever. And the Gospels written by the Evangelists have been preached all around the world, proclaiming the salvation which the Lamb won on the cross. When Christ crucified is preached, glory is given to God, and when a single person comes to faith in Christ, there is great joy in heaven.
Our four windows depicting the four Evangelists testify to all of us at Gloria Dei, and to all who visit, that we believe in the Holy Trinity and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as is recorded in the Gospels. We are committed to proclaiming Christ to our community and to all nations. These windows also remind us that while we labor in the Church militant here on earth, there is also the Church in glory in heaven. And when the Gospel is preached here, they rejoice in heaven, and when we sing praise to God, they also sing His praise. These windows remind us of what Jesus said just before He ascended into heaven, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”