...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Morning by morning new mercies I see

One of my favorite things about my church, First Congregational United Church of Christ of downtown Portland, are the beautiful stained glass windows. I always sit on the left side of the sanctuary, so I have a great view of the huge, jewel-toned window on the right, which shows Jesus welcoming the little children to him. We don't have a large cross at the altar (a consciously-made decision that I disagree with) and I find that having an image or an icon helps me focus in prayer, so often during the prayers or the Doxology I turn my head towards the eastern window instead. (That window and I have quite a history: it also served as the jumping-off point for a Kugler paper about hermeneutical philosophy, entitled "Sunday Morning Epistemology: Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, and Stained Glass Windows.")

Today during the sermon, I and several others around me watched as the sun slowly came out from behind a cloud and illuminated the window. The yellow tones became golden; the muted blues and greens, unimpressive on a cloudy day, brilliant sapphires and emeralds. At one point, for several minutes, the sun's position was such that exactly half of the circular window was illuminated. There was a sharp line of shadow down the center of the window. Jesus glowed, while the people crowded around him were left in darkness. Slowly the sun emerged and the shadow was pushed aside; soon all were glowing with the sun, and it struck me that perhaps there could be no better metaphor for the coming of the Son of God into the darkness of the world.

After the service Dorothy, a friend of mine from the church, and I were talking about the stained glass window. I told her how I use it as a focus for my prayer and meditation and she nodded. "I love it, too," she said, "because we are all called to Jesus. No matter who you are or where you are, we can all be like the little children gathered to him...even Dubya could sit with him! Anyone!"

Amen, and may it be so.