A beautiful, sunny Easter Sunday is extremely hard to come by in Michigan. I can’t tell you how many years I’ve dressed up in something cute and spring-like for the holiday and had to throw a heavy winter coat over the whole get up to go to church. But this Easter was perfect – it was almost 50 when we left for church and reached a high in the 60’s.
During the 9:00 a.m. service, the sanctuary was filled with light. It streamed through the arched windows high in the beams and poured through the intricate stained glass columns on either side of the altar. But the most breathtaking window in the place is directly above the altar and looks like this:
Pretty standard fare for church stained glass windows, huh? What’s truly amazing about this window isn’t the window itself, it’s the effect in the sanctuary on certain times of the day during certain times of the year. Because at those special times the light reflected looks like this:
Amazing, huh? What’s even more amazing is the fact that there’s no cross depicted in the window at all. Take a look back at the first picture. Is there anything in that window that would make you believe it would reflect a cross? And what’s even MORE amazing than that is that the window was not specially engineered to do this.
It’s truly the happiest of accidents: a stained glass window in a church, reflecting a perfect cross that appears in the center aisle and during the service travels down the aisle, up the wall, up and up to…? I’ll let you fill in that gap, depending on your own faith, but in my head I have a pretty good idea where it goes.
"It almost takes your speech away," said our priest, George Cleaves, in an interview with a local newspaper. (You can read the whole article here, and by the way…George is a kajillion times friendlier that he looks in the above picture!) "To me, it's a wonderful affirmation of what God is doing in this congregation."
Well said, George.
Needless to say, our kids think this is a pretty amazing trick. We talked about it for quite awhile on the drive home this morning. They came up with a few scientific explanations for why the cross appears from a window that doesn’t include any sort of cross-like image.
“I think that little part in the top corner looks kind of like a cross and maybe when the sun shines through it makes it look a lot bigger,” said one of them.
“I think it’s just the angle of the light during certain times of the day that warps the image and makes the cross appear,” said another.
“It could be any of those things,” I agreed. “But maybe it’s none of them. Maybe God just put it there. Why can’t that be the explanation?”
“Or maybe it IS something scientific,” suggested our 11-year-old. “But God gave the guys who made it the intelligence to figure out how to do it.”
I was so shocked and impressed by that explanation I turned around in my car seat to smile at him. “I think you might be right, Jer. That was a really smart answer.”
“Science and religion don’t have to be opposites,” said my husband. “Sometimes one explains the other.”
So that was Easter for our family. Father George gave an amazing sermon, I got a lot out of it and left the church feeling really great. But I think the real testament of our faith happened in the car on the way home.