The Three Days in stained glass
by Pastor Michael D. Costello
Each year during the season of Lent
I give thanks for the stained glass windows that I see most often. Looking across the nave from the choir loft, I never tire of the beautiful windows that adorn the north balcony. Of the three columns of stained glass, the one in the center is my favorite, for it tells the story of the great Three Days of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The Three Days, or Triduum as it is traditionally called, may seem like a series of individual worship services from Maundy Thursday through Easter, but just as the column of windows tells one great story, our worship life during Holy Week is a pilgrimage through that one story in which we recall Jesus’ pascha (passage) from death to life.
Reflect with me on the events portrayed in these windows during the Three Days again this year:
Maundy Thursday. Beginning at the bottom of the central column of glass, we see Jesus on the night of his betrayal. At the institution of the Lord’s Supper he offers up his true body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. On Maundy Thursday we also remember Jesus’ new commandment (mandatum) that we love one another just as he has loved us. For this reason we observe the washing of feet during our Maundy Thursday evening worship service as a visual reminder of Christ’s hope that we, as Christ’s disciples, might love one another. (See John 13.)
Good Friday. As the story continues, our eyes are drawn much higher to what Pastor Geiseman called “the focal point of all the windows.” On Good Friday we hear again the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and are reminded of the most important truth of our faith—Jesus Christ, God’s only-begotten Son, died for us and for our salvation. Here we see Jesus crucified with the inscription above him: “Jesus of Nazareth; King of the Jews.” At his side we see his mother and the beloved disciple, here portrayed as St. John.
The Great Vigil of Easter. At the very top of the window in the north balcony we see Jesus exiting the tomb and rising to eternal life. At the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening we recall that God in Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death through his own death and resurrection. We light the new paschal candle, hear once again the great story of God’s saving works, rejoice with the newly baptized for new life in Christ, and receive the risen Lord at the Lamb’s High Feast.
Take a look at these beautiful windows at Grace to be reminded of these central events of our faith in Jesus. And then join us for worship during the Three Days to remember that this story is God’s loving story for you.
Photos by Jonathan Hillert from "Windows of Grace," ed. Kathryn Brewer.