Friday, 7 March 2014

Sensing Lent 3: Glass

Stained glass in St John the evangelist, Stoke Row, Oxon, UK.
Glass. It struck me looking at this beautiful window that those of us who spend a lot of time making church related visual aids out of cardboard and sticky backed plastic, are probably missing a trick. 

In the days when people didn't have bibles, or for that matter, WH Smith, the stories told through glass were vivid enough. 

It's a very different experience reading words on a page than feasting your eyes upon this image from one of Jesus' nature miracles, for example - the angled boat tossed and turned in the turquoise sea, the sails billowing out, the knots on the ropes looking real enough to touch. 

It tells, or shouts, the story. At least one disciple is praying through sheer terror, another holds his cloak to his neck, a third looks anxious. But the fourth looks downwards, perhaps more trusting. Another little story inserted there? Jesus commands the storm, his arm outstretched towards an artistic insertion of a white bird (I'm guessing doves, though seagulls might be more likely...did they have seagulls in Palestine?) 

Further images and symbols around the frame yield enough material for six bible studies, negating the need to go on Amazon or print out endless reams of paper.
Plain window, same church.

St Paul famously looked 'through a glass darkly', which has to go down as one of the most provocative and poetic images of the King James Version of the Bible. 

I know the church can seem boring and out of touch, irrelevant to modern life and stuck in the dark ages, but we do have some very good windows. Taken in slowly and thoroughly, with a little guidance on hand, I reckon they could convert a few people on the spot.

Whether you're looking through a glass, looking at a glass, or reflecting on whether you are currently seeing clearly or not, it's a potent piece of stuff for day three of 'sensing' Lent.

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