The moment I entered Central’s sanctuary prior to my interview I knew it was a space in which I’d want to worship. After my 5 year exile 1 in “white-washed” Protestant New England 2, I was ready for a beautiful worship space.
Central fit the bill, the stained glass is amazing. It’s both theologically rich and beautiful — so much so I once wrote a sermon series on the main panels 3.The image below shines down from the front of the Sanctuary and is, as one might expect, the most stunning in the building.
The three main panels reflect Jesus’ nativity (left), where the eternal Son of God was born in human flesh. Jesus’ baptism (right), where he publicly declared he would stand with humanity in it’s struggles with sin and death. And the Resurrection (center), when Jesus burst open the doors of death from the inside because he’d disarmed that power on the cross. I’m not sure most people realize, but every time we worship in our sanctuary shining down on us is an artistic rendering of one of the greatest theological truths ever embraced.
Christ’s love is so great he has always chosen, and will always choose, to be with us.
Also prominent in this panel is an image of the Bible (lower left corner), which is how we know the story of Jesus. And the cross and crown (lower right corner), which serves to remind us how Christ’s reign was brought into fruition though service rather than conquest — specifically his death on the cross.
Even more wondrous is how the cross has been embedded so carefully into the display. There are crosses within crosses within crosses, and they frame everything. The whole sanctuary is like this, actually, it reminds us we worship “the lamb who was slain.”
I know the trend among Protestants is to worship in multi-purpose rooms which lack any ornamentation which is not removable. But give me deep beauty over austere functionality any day 4.
- Seminary, followed by a two year interim pastorate. ↩
- In the 1950’s a lot of New England Protestants got it into their heads beautiful worship spaces were “too Catholic.” So they painted everything white. I was shown a number of images displaying the rich wood grain which used to adorn the worship spaces and wondered if God wasn’t a bit angry with us. ↩
- I’m actually converting this series into an eBook to put on Amazon. ↩
- That’s not to say our space is perfect. I’d love to get rid of the pews, because right now we can only do one type of worship in the space. I’d like to bring in some more liturgical movement, or even celebrate a communion meal in the space, but the idea of rows and aisles is literally screwed into the floor. ↩