The Story of Our Windows
The excerpts below are taken from a sermon by Rev. Dr. Robert S. Crutchfield, pastor at our Sanctuary dedication service in 1982, by Jackie Connor, historian.
"The basic theme of the windows is the covenant between God and his people. So you may have to crane your neck, but I'll start at the beginning and tell you about the message of the stained glass windows.
On this page
This side, the three windows on my right, is the covenant with the Hebrews beginning with the beginning. At the top of the window farthest to my right is the symbol representing the earth and the creation of the earth. "In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth." The world is shown as it is seen from the Heavens - seen perhaps you remember in a beautiful photograph taken from the moon when human beings first achieved flight to the moon. And so it bespeaks of the location here of the NASA Research Center and it is very fitting on that point indeed. Just below that is the rainbow representing God's covenant after the flood and to the left and below that is the ark which represented God's salvation of his people during the flood and from which they emerged.
The middle section gives us a heroic figure of Moses representing perhaps chiefly the covenant as it is known from Mt. Sinai and the Ten Commandments. We see him with the shepherd's staff standing and holding the Ten Commandments to represent God's entering into the covenant with his people which began anew as the people had been saved out of Egypt and the Exodus and met God at Mt. Sinai.
Further on around we have suggestions of God's later dealings with the Hebrew people. In the upper left-hand corner is the Star of David representing God's covenant with David and his promise of preservation of that covenant. The next one is a scroll representing the writings of the Bible and more especially of the prophets who arose under the kingdoms of Israel and Judah to declare and to pronounce God's will for his people in their generation. Further down is a harp representing the praises of Israel and in particular the psalms of David.
As we move around the sanctuary we come to the second section which is the covenant in Christ and there surrounding the resplendent figure of the glorified and risen Christ are six (6) symbols of the covenant in Christ. On the right-hand side is the dove which descended according to the gospel story upon Jesus at his baptism. There is a kingly crown representing Jesus in the line of David, and underneath is the lamp of wisdom. On the
left-hand side is the Bethlehem star, the crown of thorns, and finally the lamb of God.
As we proceed to the left-hand side (my left) we see windows depicting the light, the covenant of God in the life of the church representing the proclamation of the church and its foremost missionary who is, of course, the Apostle Paul depicted here proclaiming the gospel while in chains. If you see his left hand, it is chained and the chain continues down to indicate that while he was a prisoner for the gospel, he continued to proclaim the Word of the Lord. Just to his side is a building reminiscent of the Greco-Roman world into which the young church began to proclaim its message of God's love and justice. Surrounding the Apostle Paul are symbols of the church.
On the right-hand side at the top are the loaves and the fishes reminiscent of an event in the life of Jesus but also reminiscent of the concern of the church for feeding the hungry and for sharing the bread of life. Then there is a sailboat. Not only is the ship a symbol of the church down through the centuries, but also it is a fitting symbol for this particular area with our great interest in shipbuilding and other maritime activities.
Finally, there is the burning bush. The burning bush has given people a great deal of difficulty. Why isn't the burning bush over there with Moses? Well, the answer is that although the burning bush was associated with Moses, it is now one symbol of the Presbyterian Church. In fact, the burning bush is the only symbol of the Church of Scotland from which the Presbyterian Church in America claims lineal descent, and it is a part, as you may have noticed in the narthex, of the coat of arms of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. Laura Willard has beautifully executed this coat of arms in needlepoint and it is hanging above the main door outside the narthex. In addition to the burning bush, the coat of arms has also the lamp of wisdom which we have over on that side.
Finally, in the closest window, there are the symbols of the words of the sacraments. At the top the shell with water pouring from it representing baptism. The open Bible, the wheat, the grapes, and the chalice remind us of the shed blood of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper with the bread and the wine shared among the followers of Christ.
These are symbols representing our faith, our heritage, our history of which we may justly be proud and grateful. But the symbols, of course, are meaningless unless they find their value in reality in the lives of each of us to go out to live. Therefore, let us have the symbols call us anew to the covenant which God has made with us in our own relationship with him."