Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
When our church was built there was originally a blank wall behind the altar. It was beautiful the way it was. But later on the opportunity came up to add in a window instead of a blank wall, to add color and beauty to the front and center of our sanctuary. What would be the subject of such a window? The congregation made a good decision. We were given a window that tells the story of Holy Week, that tells us of the love of Jesus as He went to the cross and rose again. Holy Week is the highest point of the Church Year. We return to it every year with repentant joy. We return to Holy Week again this month. So it is good for us to take a few moments to observe this window, and remember what it tells us about the glory of God, as this Holy Week approaches.
The key to understanding this window is to look at the trees. On the left side of the window is a beautiful depiction of palm trees. Immediately these beautiful palms bring you to Palm Sunday. When you see the palms you remember the familiar readings, how Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey, how the crowds of believers praised Him and laid their cloaks and palm branches on the road before Him. They cried out, Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna means, “Lord, save us!” That is exactly what Jesus had come to do – to save the world!
We also gather together and sing, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” We sing that together every week as part of our Communion liturgy. We sing it in celebration that Jesus not only entered Jerusalem so long ago, but that He also comes among us as we gather. He comes to us in Holy Communion. He gives us His body and blood under the bread and wine. And with Himself He gives you the forgiveness of sins and all the blessings He won on the cross. He saves you.
The next tree you see in the window is an olive tree. The artist did a wonderful job of capturing the distinctive color and shape of the trees that grow on the Mount of Olives. When we see them we think of Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. We remember Christ in agony, praying before His arrest. We remember His love to obey His Father and His love to save us. But sadly we remember the disciples sleeping instead of praying. How often we have been distracted from God’s Word and prayer by the pleasures of this world. These trees remind us to repent and return to Christ and His Word.
Straight above the olive trees are the three trees on Mount Calvary – cross of Christ and those of the two thieves. Jesus went willingly to the cross. He bore the agony of it to pay for your sins and the sins of the whole world. He defeated your great enemy, Satan. He took your place in death so that you might have His life. What love! What sorrow! What victory and joy! Behind the cross of Christ in the window you see a circle.
It is there to remind you of how the sun was darkened while Christ hung on the cross. The window high on our center wall depicts the glory of God in Creation. (We will talk about that one in another newsletter soon.) The sun being darkened told of how all of creation mourned the death of Christ.
How appropriate then the to the right of these crosses we see the open tomb and Christ Jesus risen from the dead! The light of His glory shines forth from Him and goes forth into all the world. He is risen! He is risen indeed! As He lives – so too you who have been baptized into Christ, you who believe in Christ, you who have been cleansed in Christ, you too will live forever by His grace.
If you look closely you can see the figure of Christ holding a flag. He holds a red pole in His hand and at the top is a banner – a white flag. In the center of the white flag is a red cross. This is the traditional flag depicting Christ risen from the dead. You see it in artwork from around the world over many hundreds of years. It reminds you of Revelation 7:14. In that verse, the Christians who are in heaven are described as those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. Jesus is the Lamb of God. He died and rose to save you. Your sins are washed clean by His blood. The blood red cross reminds you of that, as does the white field of the flag.
These center windows tell us all of the central events of Jesus life. They remind us of what Jesus did to save us. So it is good that they are front and center in our church, to always keep us focused on Jesus Christ, on His death and resurrection, on His sacraments and the Gospel. He is our Lord! All glory to His name!
God bless you during this Holy Week. I look forward to worshipping with you as we hear of all that Jesus did to save us.