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Previous Message From Virtual Church

The Window

Tad and Helen were mainstays of the church. They are the kind of people who are always a blessing to a pastor. They are the kind of people who keep a church in tact through the lean times and through the times of plenty. On the way home from Sunday worship, Helen said, "There is something wrong with the window." Tad replied, "Yeah, it is probably the plastic sheeting we put on the outside of the window to protect the glass."

In Tad and Helen's church there is a stained glass window. The stained glass window depicts a larger than life image of Christ, standing with outstretched arms. The window is in the south end of the sanctuary, positioned so when you sit in the pews, you see the beauty and magnificence of our Lord. Because the window faces south, when the sun is shining, at about midway through the morning service, the window glows brightest with its many colors and hues. Two and one-half generations have gazed upon the window since the church was built over fifty years ago. But now, something is not quite right.

Tad said, "I'll call Rich, who is the new president of the board of trustees, and see about getting the sheeting replaced or cleaned. We have a contractor here in Stroupville who has the scaffolding to get up that high. It is probably the plastic. Sometimes the plastic will discolor and that is probably what has happened here."

Tad and Helen arrive home and Tad calls Rich about the window. Rich said no problem about calling Carl Munson to get the plastic removed and replaced. On the following Friday, Carl Munson and several men from the church arrive at about 10 o'clock in the morning to remove the plastic covering on the outside of the window. The scaffolding is set up, and two men climb to the top of the window on the scaffolding and begin removing screws that hold the plastic against the wooden frame. About two hours later, all the plastic is removed. The plastic looks normal with no discoloration. Since Tad was one of the men of the church who came to help with the plastic, Tad goes inside the sanctuary to see if taking the plastic off had any affect on the brightness of the window. Unfortunately, the window appeared to be quite dull, and the sun was out in full force on this very hot day in July.

In disbelief, Tad walked back outside and mentioned to the assembled group that things had not changed as far as the brightness of the window. Quite obviously, the plastic sheeting was not the problem. One of the men said, "We had the window re-leaded and re-caulked several years ago. Maybe we need to call the firm that did the work." Everyone agreed and all walked into the sanctuary to have a look for themselves. Upon seeing the window, all agreed someone needed to be called. Tad found the phone number of the stained glass firm. Tad used the church phone and called the firm. Speaking with the firm's owner, Tad explained that the window, for some reason, had gone really dark and dim. The owner of the firm said he had never heard of such a thing but would be there tomorrow to have a look for himself.

The next day, Tad and a few of the church members met the stained glass expert in front of the church. The expert looked at the window from the outside but said he did not see any dirt or film of any kind on the stained glass pieces that made up the window's beautiful mosaic. Walking inside to the sanctuary, the stained glass man was visibly shaken. He said, "I've never seen anything like this. Never, never, never seen anything like this. I am 63 years old, I've done stained glass work since I was 18. I've seen windows all over the United States and in Europe. Something is really strange here. Glass does not go dim like this. Maybe one or two pieces of the mosaic may have some flaw or defect, but not the whole window. I cannot explain this." Tad then said, "What do we do? What comes next?" The stained glass man replied, "To tell you the truth, I don't know. To tell you the truth, it is impossible for a whole stained glass window like this to go dim or dark. What I will do today is remove one piece of the mosaic and send it to a physicist I know who can test the glass. He won't believe me when I tell him about this but at least getting him a sample will get us some kind of initial answer." The glass man went to his truck, removed a small torch, and quickly removed a small piece of the mosaic, and replaced the piece with a piece of clear plastic." The glass man wrapped the sample piece of stained glass in bubble wrap and placed the sample in a cardboard box. The glass man said, "I'll FedEx the sample out today when I get back to the shop. The physicist should have it by Monday and we'll get some answers."

The next day was Sunday and Rich told the congregation about the efforts to solve the mystery about the window going dark. After the service, a number of church members had questions that neither Rich nor Tad could answer. All the congregation could do was wait to get an answer from the stained glass man.

Four days later, Tad checks his voice mail at home and there is a message from the stained glass man asking for a call back. Tad calls and gets the news. The stained glass man said, "Well, I tell you. I know the physicist. This guy knows more about glass than nearly anyone on earth. The glass sample was put through every conceivable test and the glass tested normal. The only problem is that when a human being looks at the glass, the glass appears darker than normal. The physicist has gone a little nutty over this one. The physicist even went so far as to get other people to compare fairly identical samples to the window sample and the window sample always appeared darker. The physicist said he wants to come and see the whole window. He is in Boston and said he will fly out in two weeks to see the church window for himself. He also said he is sending a lot of testing equipment ahead that he will use to test the window when he gets there." Tad thanks the glass man and then tells Helen things are still as strange as ever.

In twelve days a large shipping container from Boston arrives at the church and is off-loaded near the front of the church. Two days later, the physicist, Dr. David Farnsworth, schedules a time to come to the church to have a look at the window and to conduct tests. Dr. Farnsworth looks at the window from the outside but can see nothing unusual. He then enters the sanctuary from a side door and stares in disbelief at the darkened window. The members of the church who greet Dr. Farnsworth indicate the window seems to be getting darker by the week. Dr. Farnsworth then asks for help bringing the testing equipment inside the church. The testing equipment is brought in and contains the latest optic measuring devices known to man. Attached to Dr. Farnsworth's laptop, the readings all come back and all the readings come back normal. Dr. Farnsworth exclaims, "I cannot believe this. I see with my own eyes the window is dark. When I hook up the latest digital optic measuring devices and take measurements, the measurements are normal. Something is crazy here and it isn't me. I tested the sample. The glass is normal. The glass has no film of any kind on it. The opacity of the glass sample and the glass in the window test normal using lab equipment. Yet when you look at the sample, the sample and the window are dark. I cannot believe this. The only other person I know that could have any clue about any of this is Angelo. Angelo is a buddy of mine. Angelo has seen more stained glass windows than any living person because Angelo works for the Vatican as their curator and scientific expert on stained glass windows." Dr. Farnsworth pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number. Dr. Farnsworth spoke into the phone and said, "Angelo, were you in bed my friend? No? Well that is good because I have something to tell you and you had better sit down. Angelo, we have a problem here in the U.S. with a stained glass window that has gone dark. The whole window, all the pieces of the mosaic, have gone dark. The only problem is that every part of the window, including a sample, test normal in opacity. We have known each other for many years. You know I would not lie. This is the truth. I am at the church and I am looking right at the window. What do you think?" Dr. Farnsworth listens for a few minutes and says, "You have to see it to believe it. Thank you, Angelo, I will run the test you suggest." Folding up the cell phone, Dr. Farnsworth tells the group he must run one more test and that five or six pieces of the mosaic will need to be removed. The church members begin to ask questions but Dr. Farnsworth has no answers.

Within about an hour, Dr. Farnsworth had removed five pieces of the mosaic. The pieces were placed in small translucent plastic boxes so only the center of the sample was visible. Dr. Farnsworth labeled each sample. Dr. Farnsworth than placed other stained glass samples, identical in color and opacity to the samples from the window, in identical translucent plastic boxes so only the center of the sample was visible. He then mixed up the samples and asked the members of the church to identify the samples from the window and the samples brought by Dr. Farnsworth. Everyone could identify the church samples from Dr. Farnsworth's samples. Dr. Farnsworth then said, "I am not a religious man. I am a scientist. I only believe what I see and what I measure. In this case, what I see I cannot measure. What I see I cannot explain. It is obvious, the issue of the darkness of the window is perceptual. Scientifically, the window is not dark. But when people look at the window, when people see the window, the window is dark. Even though I am not a religious man, even when I look at the window, I see a dark window instead of a normal window. The problem here is perceptual. For you church people, you are going to say the problem is spiritual. I have no other explanation. I have done all I can do and I am still troubled. I will now pack up my gear and go back to Boston where science rules. If I were inclined to believe in God, I would say the darkness of the window has something to do with God but since I do not believe in God, I do not know what to tell you. I will not charge you for my services since I could not give you any kind of scientific answer."

The church members were stunned. They thanked Dr. Farnsworth and offered to cover some of his expenses but he refused. Word traveled fast to all the church members. The whole congregation was abuzz about this mystery and about the window. The next Sunday, the church was so full of people that chairs had to be put in the hallway in back of the sanctuary to hold the crowd. The window was darker than ever. From inside the church, the window was as dark as if night had fallen outside. The mood inside the church was somber. Members were visibly upset. Heads were bowed in prayer before services began. No one was talking. The church was visibly grieving. In addition, today was Children's Sunday and the children were also aware of the window and the window's darkness. Their mood, along with the adults, was somber.

For Children's Sunday, the church had always put on a special music program by the children. This Sunday, some of the church members had built a special platform in front of the window. The platform was put over the baptismal that was directly beneath the window. The platform was richly decorated with flowers and ribbons. The flowers and ribbons stood in sharp contrast to the darkened window. The children of the church all sat on the front pews and when it came their time to sing, all the children disappeared into a small anteroom that led to the platform over the baptismal. In a few minutes, the children all assembled on the platform in front of the window. The chosen song this year was "Jesus Loves Me."

As the children began to sing, something began to happen to the window. The window started getting brighter, the longer the children sang, the brighter the window got. Near the end of the song, the window was gleaming and beaming so much the children began to notice the bright light coming from behind them and all the children turned around toward the window with their backs to the congregation. At the end of the song, the organist started playing the song again and this time the whole congregation began singing. The window seemed new. The window with its multitude of colors and hues seemed to fill the whole sanctuary with a light that was from heaven. To everyone in the congregation, it was as if no one had ever seen the window before. All the darkness was gone from the window and the somber mood of the congregation had changed to utmost joy.

The pastor stood up and walked to the pulpit. The pastor said, "Let us pray. Let us pray that we always remember Jesus loves us. Let us pray we always count our blessings. Let us pray His love remains as new and fresh in our lives tomorrow as it is today."

Matthew 4:16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." (NIV)

Matthew 28:6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. (NIV)

Epilogue

The story is fictitious but there really is a church window in a real church like the window in the story. However, this real stained glass window in this real church has never gone dark and will never go dark for the members of the church will never forget. In the state of Indiana, in the United States, there is a little town called Waldron, located in Shelby County, southeast of Indianapolis. In the Waldron Baptist Church in Waldron, Indiana there is, on the south end of the sanctuary, a larger than life beautiful stained glass window depicting the image of our Lord Jesus Christ with His arms outstretched.

This story is dedicated to the memory of those church members who have joined our savior in heaven and to those church members who remain alive. May all of us remember to keep the memory of our Savior's love fresh and alive today, tomorrow, and for all the days to come until we see Him coming on the clouds.

This story appeared as the September, 2003 virtual church message at Shepherd's Care Ministries virtual church site at http://www.findthepower.com

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Entire contents copyright © 1999 - 2010 by Rev. Patrick Kelly, All rights reserved.
All content is presented on behalf of Shepherd’s Care Ministries. Shepherd's Care Ministries reserves no right or claim upon content.

Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018