Dear Friends, Here is the second installment of Fr. Michael Belinsky’s exposition on our stained glass windows. Enjoy!
West Wall: “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11)
As you enter the church and stand at the baptismal font, this window is the first one on the left. It’s an image of great consolation.
The full image is that of a bearded Jesus, staff in hand, with a lamb upon his shoulders. Jesus is robed with a series of garments: a tunic, a belt, a robe and an exterior cloak. These clothes portray Jesus as High Priest. In the Temple, the priest would wear: a linen robe (like the priest or deacon’s alb), a breastplate adorned with precious stones, a colorful robe (like a priest’s chasuble or deacon’s dalmatic) and then a cope (an all-weather cloak) (Exodus 28). So, by his garments, we see who Jesus is. He carries the Lamb but will also become the Lamb of Sacrifice (Exodus 12). He who is the Lamb (John 2:29) is also the Priest who will offer the sacrifice of himself upon the altar of the Cross.
The sky is dark blue – nighttime with two red stars. The dark can always be a time of fear, anxiety or confusion. Jesus walks upon green grass, hearkening to rich pastures for his sheep. However, we see palm branches in the lower right and lower left corners of this image which remind us that even as the Lord was welcomed into Jerusalem with shouts of “Hosanna” and a procession of palm branches, he would die at the week’s end on the Cross.
Around his head is a three-rayed Nimbus – a type of halo. The rays are deep red inset within a white background. Only a member of the Trinity wears this halo as it’s a sign of divinity. The rays of light were ancient emblems of divine power.
He carries a staff, which is both a support for him and can be used as a weapon against predators and any who would attempt to steal the sheep. Attached to the top of the staff is a small bag. Perhaps this is a pouch of medicine for use among the sheep who are sick.
Middle left – a radiant sun with the initials IHC – the sun with its beams suggest the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2). The circle of the sun denotes eternity with the initials of the Eternal Son for the name of Jesus in Greek: “IHCOYC.”
Upper right – a white dove on wing. This bird is associated with the Spirit of God. (John 2:32, the baptism of Jesus).
The lower left – a leafless thorny branch, signifying danger, death. Yet from it comes a green leaf and a red rose. The rose is a sign of the resurrection and red is the color of passionate, intense love as well as martyrdom, both of which reside in the Lord’s heart for us.
The lower right – a Chi-Rho. A capital “P” with a capital “X” over it is a monogram of the first two letters of the name “Christ” in Greek (Chi = X) (Rho = P).