History of the Tiffany Stained Glass Windows
STAINED glass windows are truly great works of art. Since the Middle ages artists have labored to produce windows that both beautify the church and glorify God.
Four of our chancel windows are creations of the man considered by many to be the most outstanding stained glass artist of all time, Louis C. Tiffany (1848-1933). The fifth window which depicts Christ as the Good Shepherd is the creation of an unknown artist. All five windows were originally in Christ Church, 24th and Michigan Avenue, where Bishop Charles Edward Cheney was Rector for fifty-six years.
These windows are not only great art, more importantly they are vehicles of communication. We not only communicate and learn through language, we also learn through the visual medium. Historically, that has been a major reason for the creation of stained glass windows. That is also our rationale. We have arranged the windows in an order that tells the Gospel story. As we "read" from left to right the Gospel unfolds in beautiful glass.
In the first window Luke the writer of the Gospel of St. Luke stands with open book and pen in hand. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Luke recorded the Gospel story. In the introduction to his gospel Luke wrote, "It seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you..." (Luke 1:3). Positioned behind the pulpit this window emphasizes our belief that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and the only basis for Christian doctrine.
The doctrine of the Incarnation teaches us that the Second Person of the Trinity became a man that He might earn salvation for all who would accept Him through faith. Mary was chosen by God to bear the Christ, the promised Savior. The Holy Spirit, pictured as a dove, performed the miracle of the Incarnation. The angel, Gabriel, had said to Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)
Jesus compared Himself to a shepherd who loves His sheep. In this context the sheep are those people who know Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. To accomplish His work as Savior, Jesus died on the cross paying the penalty for man's sin. Jesus said, "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep" (John 10:11). The benefits of Christ's work must be received by us through faith in Christ. "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved..." (Acts 16:31).
St. Agnes died a martyr's death in A.D. 304 at the age of twelve or thirteen. Her name means lamb, thus, the symbol of the lamb at her feet. Her face is filled with an expression of faith and adoration as she looks toward Jesus, who in the next window is depicted as the Good Shepherd, who lovingly cares for all His dear sheep. In one hand she holds the Holy Scriptures and in the other hand palms, which symbolize victory, while on her head rests the martyr's crown. Her face is filled with an expression of hope as she looks toward Christ's empty tomb.
Three days following His crucifixion Jesus defeated death by coming out of the grave. On that first Easter morning, the angel at the empty tomb said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said" (Matthew 23:5,6). Because Christ defeated death, those who know Him as their Savior, have the promise that they too will be resurrected on the last day. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25,26).