Memorial Stained Glass Windows
Installed in the 25th Anniversary Year
Dedicated October 23, 1966
With gratitude to God, the stained glass windows at Bethlehem Lutheran were installed in the 25th Anniversary Year of the congregation and dedicated on October 23, 1966. The beautiful windows were designed specifically for Bethlehem Lutheran Church by Mr. H. VandeBurgt, an artist associated with the J.& R. Lamb studios of Tenafly, New Jersey, the studio whose artisans executed and installed them into the sanctuary.
The Christmas Window, The Birth of Jesus
The birth of Jesus marked the beginning of the early life of Christ and is observed in the major festival of Christmas. The central panel of this window recalls that night in Bethlehem when the Infant Christ was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. Angels heralded this event singing glory to God and their hymn is still sung each week as a part of our Lutheran Worship. The Virgin Mary, Joseph and a shepherd share the nativity scene as an ox and donkey observe the baby. Although there is no reference to these animals in the Gospel accounts, they reflect Isaiah 1:3 which reads, "The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master's crib." Symbolically, the ox represents patience and sacrifice, and the donkey represents humility and service.
In the left panel is the Messianic Rose, the symbol for the promised Messiah. Combined with a candlestick it points to the fulfillment of prophecy in Christ, the Light of the World. It speaks to us of the promise of the Advent season when we light one candle each week in preparation for Christmas. On Christmas Eve as the sanctuary is full of lit candles, we celebrate the birth of Christ, the Light of the World.
The bottom panel represents our own Advent preparation to receive the Christ of Christmas. The locust and honeycomb are symbols of repentance and preparation for Jesus' coming. They come from the experience of John the Baptist in the wilderness as recorded in Matthew 3:1-6 and Mark 1:4-6.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd Window
The Church of Jesus Christ has a mission to live God's Word by bringing the saving good news of God's unconditional love to all those in need. In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus commands us to "seek and save the lost." We are to lift high the cross of Christ that all people might be drawn to Jesus' love.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church engages in local and global mission through its own members and through its national affiliation with the Evangelical Church in America. Symbols of the Division for North American Missions and Global Missions appear in the side panels of this window. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has active missions around the world. The construction symbol reminds us of our call to build churches around the world. In 2006, Bethlehem Church Council voted to support a missionary in Tanzania, the home of the fastest growing Lutheran Church in the world today.
The Good Samaritan Window
The Church of Jesus Christ has a mission to serve the physical needs of those in need. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus commands us to "go and do likewise." His demand requires far more of the Church than the priest and Levite, who passed by their wounded neighbor, unwilling to render aid. Jesus'; parable reveals that anyone who is in need is our neighbor. According to Bethlehem's mission statement, we seek to provide friendship to the lonely, security to the fearful, food to the hungry, healing to the broken, reconciliation to the estranged, and hope to the discouraged.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church seeks to fulfill this mission service to neighbor locally and globally and around the world through its own members and through its affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The symbol of the heart touched by the cross is the working arm of love reaching out to all those in need.
The Word of God Window
The Church cherishes the Word of God for it is the means whereby God makes Himself known to us. Jesus showed his knowledge of the Scriptures when his parents took him to the Temple in Jerusalem as a boy. When his parents left to return home, Jesus remained behind and Luke's gospel records, "After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers." The Reformation professed the 66 books of the Old and New Testament as God's inspired Word and proclaimed them the "sole source and norm of Christian faith and life." The constitution of this congregation binds us to the confession that the Bible is the Word of God and "therefore the only source and rule of faith, doctrine and life."
The left panel uses the tablets of stone to remind us of the Law given by God through Moses on Mt. Sinai. Although the Law convicts us of sin by exposing the ways in which we fail to love God and our neighbor, it also serves as a guide for the growing Christian who seeks to do God's will.
The right panel balances the Law with the free gift of the Gospel. Through scripture the Holy Spirit confronts us with Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. With John 20:31, we would agree, "these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."
The lamp of knowledge in the lower panel reminds us that our primary obligation is to be diligent in the use of God's Word. As Lutherans, we believe in the value of education and stress it with both youth and adults. The Christian, who grows in his knowledge of God's Word and world, grows in the knowledge of God Himself.
This memorial window was donated by the family, friends, and co-workers of Edward Vieser in appropriate recognition of his years of participation and leadership in the Sunday school of this congregation.
The Resurrection Window
The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning climax of His ministry upon earth. The central panel shows the risen Christ holding the staff and banner of victory over death. Angels who heralded the glorious news of the first Easter dawn flank him. One rolls away the stone, which sealed the tomb as the other announces, "Jesus is not here. He is risen! Come see the place where he lay." From this day on the Christian Church has observed each Sunday in celebration of His victory, breaking with tradition in order to assemble "on the first day of the week."
The left panel employs one of the oldest symbols known, the Agnus Dei or Lamb of God, to remind us of the crucifixion of Christ. Isaiah 53 foreshadowed Calvary by stating, "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth, like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth."
The eagle flying upward in the right panel is the symbol of the Ascension of Jesus. As the eagle soars heavenward into the clouds, so Christ rose to heaven on the day of his ascension. It has its basis not only in the natural characteristics of the eagle, but also in Isaiah's passage, "They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles."
In the lower panel, our own glorious resurrection from the tomb is depicted in the butterfly and cocoon. The beautiful form of the butterfly coming from the seeming lifeless chrysalis parallels our Lord's resurrection. As it represents our own victory through Christ we find added significance in the symbol. The larva suggests the lowly condition of our human existence, the chrysalis, the body in the grave, and the butterfly, the glorified body destined for everlasting life.
The Baptism of Jesus
The Baptism of Jesus marked the beginning of His ministry as Savior, as it today marks the beginning of the Christian's new life in Jesus Christ. The central panel recalls the day Jesus came to John the Baptist at the Jordan River and asked to be baptized by John. The hand, symbolic of God the Father and the Dove representing the Holy Spirit, along with Jesus show the Trinity. We, thus, recall the Father's voice at His baptism, "This is my beloved Son" and the gift of the Spirit which "descended like a dove." John's staff anticipates the cross and recalls his greeting to Jesus, "Behold, the Lamb of God."
The left panel portrays God's promise in the rainbow. It not only reminds us of God's faithful covenant with Noah, but more importantly of his promise connected with the water of baptism that "he who believes and is baptized shall be saved."
In the right panel, the shell is the traditional symbol of baptism as administered by the Church in obedience to Christ's command. Three drops of water falling from the shell indicate baptism as being "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The bottom panel represents our own reception into the Church through baptism. The ship is a symbol for the Church reminding us that in the midst of a troubled and stormy life, Jesus is with us to calm the storm, even as he calmed the Sea of Galilee. The ship's mast is like the cross. Without this central mast, the ship cannot sail, just as there would be no church without the cross. The "Chi Ro" emblazoned on the sail also represents Christ. The first two letters of the name Christ in Greek are X and P. We are made children of God in Baptism and express this new life with Christ in the Church.
The Lord's Supper Window
In the upper room of Jerusalem, Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper with bread, wine, and the simple command, "This do in remembrance of me." Though all the disciples were present, the central panel of our window, depicts our Lord with two disciples seated near him, James and John. The devotion of John contrasts to Peter's unwillingness to accept the inevitable as Jesus prefigures his body broken on the cross in the breaking of the bread.
The left panel with its shock of wheat and the communion wafer together with the chalice reminds us that through his presence in the simple elements of bread and wine Christ chooses to bestow the spiritual blessings of the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation upon his faithful followers.
In the right panel we are reminded of the wine of the communion table and also of Jesus' teachings regarding the vine. Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. The one who abides in me, and I in him, that one it is who bears much fruit."
The lower panel presents the threefold significance of the Sacrament in the personal life of the Christian. The palms represent the praise and gratitude for his coming into our lives through this blessed meal. The crossed keys symbolize forgiveness so complete it is as though heaven's gates are opened for us. Strengthened by God's forgiveness, we go forth to serve both God and our neighbors as symbolized by the pitcher, basin, and towel. This symbol of service springs from Jesus washing his" disciples' feet in the upper room and recalls his words, "If I then, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you."