|Not an actual picture of what I saw, |
but you get the idea
Upon arrival, I was greeted by a friendly lady who offered me a map! Yes, there was that much going on! One large room was reserved for “vendors” and professional craftsmen/craftswomen. There were tables covered in hand-made jewelry, needlework, baby blankets, and Christmas decorations. There were also the typical vendors like Avon, Scentsy, Tupperware, and Usborne Books. A second large room was set aside for an enormous bake sale, a chili lunch and tables of “church crafts”. Another area was reserved for a large “Silent Auction”, and another was set up as a coffee shop.
Everywhere I wandered, I was greeted by genuinely friendly folks. It was the kind of reception that you’ll only get in a church setting these days. It felt homey and cozy and like being with family.
So, I took my time. I picked up a chocolate chip cookie and a little Royal Copley vase that was calling my name. As I headed down the main hallway toward the exit, I was greeted by a smiling older man.
“Would you like a tour of the sanctuary?” he asked me.
After a quick glance at my watch, I answered, “Of course I would.”
This particular sanctuary was beautiful because of its simplicity. Clean lines and muted colors gave off a very calming feel. There was one feature to this lovely room of worship that was far from muted. The stained glass windows were vivid and well executed. Down one side, the windows featured scenes from the Old Testament. New Testament stories were featured down the other side. The tour was focused on the windows, as it should have been. They were clearly the focal point of the sanctuary.
The sweet man looked down at a printed packet he held in his hands. “I’ve only done this a few times”, he said, “so I might have to look at this now and again.”
I smiled at him, and said that was certainly no problem with me.
We started with the Old Testament wall. The craftsmanship of each window was amazing. The artists had managed to meld color and shapes in a way that was truly moving. The afternoon sun shown through the reds, gold and greens. It was simply lovely.
We started with the “Creation Window”. We admired it for a bit. He pointed out the careful detail. We walked to the next.
“This one,” he said looking down at his paper, “is….”
“It’s the parting of the red sea”, I told him, pointing at the rushing water. “There’s Moses.”
“So this isn’t your first time in a church,” he chuckled – an ornery glint in his eye.
“Do you know this one?” His finger pointed at the next window. I had to laugh a little. I was being challenged to an unofficial game of Bible Trivia!
I grinned at him and said, “The Ten Commandments”.
He laughed. Not even bothering with his paper anymore, and clearly much more at ease. We passed the windows one by one: “Noah’s Ark”, “David & Goliath”, “Samson”, “Daniel in the Lions’ Den”. “Joseph and the coat of many colors”, “Jonah and the Whale”.
“Big Fish” he corrected. We laughed and moved on.
We paused before the next window. It showed a figure walking a lone and dark path. In the figure’s hand was a shepherd’s crook. Toward the bottom of the window, colored glass printed out Psalm 23.
Almost as if on cue, the old man and I said in unison, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his names sake. Yea though I walk through the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…”
There’s more to that passage of course, but that was where we both paused. We shared a knowing smile – though strangers, we knew that we shared something very special – our faith.
We moved on to the New Testament side, and took turns naming the remaining stories depicted in the beautiful glass work. “The birth of Christ”, “John the Baptist”, “Jesus loves the children”, “The woman at the well”, “Jesus walking on water”, “The Garden of Gethsemane”, “The Crucifixion”, and most importantly, “The Resurrection”.
The tour only took a few minutes, but it was a sweet time spent with a new friend. I thanked him for his time, and for the experience. He bid me a fond farewell.
I left with my cookie, the sweet little vase, and a contented smile. Somehow I felt lighter inside. It was a good day. It was a good tour. It was good to be reminded of the kindness of strangers, and the camaraderie that exists when those strangers share belief and good natured fellowship.