Last week, we delved deep into the question, "Who am I?", much as Jesus once posed to his disciples. Today, we extend our exploration further, by asking not only "What am I?" but also drawing inspiration and lessons from the magnificent Houldsworth Window within our church – a treasure trove of stories and symbolism.
To begin our journey of introspection, Bill orchestrated a delightful guessing game, enlisting our youngest members. Donning costumes of various professions, these children animatedly tried to decipher whether they were representing a nurse, a builder, a police officer, or perhaps a minister, purely based on their attire.
Amidst the chuckles and playful impersonations, Bill underscored a poignant truth: our outer roles may shift over time, but what God cherishes most is the essence of who we are at our core. Let’s aim to be individuals infused with kindness, spreading joy wherever we tread — a message that resonates with both the young and the young at heart!
Turning our attention to the Houldsworth Window, a gracious gift in 1890 from William Houldsworth in memory of his beloved wife, Sarah, we find a rich tapestry of Biblical episodes, saints, and symbols. Long captivating our members and visitors, this ornate piece beckons us to decipher the profound stories etched within its panes.
Centerstage in the window are two pivotal Biblical episodes: Moses raising the bronze serpent to safeguard the Israelites, and the poignant crucifixion of Jesus. The act of Moses elevating the serpent, a beacon of salvation for all who beheld it, parallels Jesus' words, suggesting He too must be “lifted up” for mankind's salvation. This analogy underscores the indispensable nature of Jesus' sacrifice for our redemption.
Yet, this act of “lifting up” Jesus still holds profound meaning for our contemporary lives. As eloquently expressed by David Lacey from Kilmarnock, it isn't our responsibility to usher people into the church – that divine task rests with God. Our mission is to elevate Jesus in our hearts and lives, exuding Christlike love and service to our fellow beings.
Upon closer examination of the window, while figures like John the Evangelist and Andrew are recognisable, icons symbolising early church pioneers and revered saints, such as Pope Gregory and St. Augustine, also stand out. For a 19th century Presbyterian church, the inclusion of Catholic icons was ahead of its time, symbolising a spirit of ecumenicalism and perhaps an aspiration for unity among denominations. This forward-thinking approach, which prioritises shared faith over distinctions, serves as a beacon for us today in our quest for harmony.
The window also illuminates the rising prominence of women, celebrating early female martyrs and saints. Their presence stands as a testament to the strides women have made over the years – from securing voting rights to pioneering roles in ministry. As we congregate beneath this luminous artistry, we express our gratitude for the invaluable contributions women bring to our spiritual community.
So, as we stand in awe of this resplendent window, let it serve as a perennial reminder to introspect within our souls, extend our hands in service, and elevate our spirits in reverence to the One who redeems. Let’s embrace its essence of unity and grace, transcending boundaries of belief, gender, and generations.