“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Who doesn’t love stained glass windows?
They captivate us, tell us ancient stories, and lift our eyes to worship the God of Light.
From lofty, ancient cathedrals to tiny jewel-like chapels around the world, these frozen kaleidoscopes of stained glass mesmerize us. Crystal panes of ruby, sapphire, and topaz turn sunlight into sparkling ribbons that dance across lifeless gray stone or plastered walls.
Characters from Scripture unfold from window to window, shimmering with bright circles of haloed light. God’s faithfulness from generation to generation comes alive.
In some European churches, though, the colorful windows of the past are gone. No meaningful shapes, just panes of clear glass and leaded frames. The old stories, the careful artistry, the rainbow hues were lost in the brutal bombardment of World War II.
Imagine the days immediately after the shelling, those beautiful windows slammed onto the cathedral floor. Shattered splendor. Jagged shards that stab at our hearts. Everything jumbled, broken. Fragments of people, missing pieces. Useless. Ready to be thrown out.
Or are they?
My husband’s cousin Penny takes broken pieces of old stained-glass windows from an American country church, melts slivers into delicate glass beads, and strings them into jewelry. The windows are now on bracelets she has given me, in swirled periwinkle blue and purple beads separated by silver spheres. Repurposed. Beautiful. With a history of faith. A joy to share with others.
Placed in the hands of a skillful artisan, what was broken becomes whole. Different, perhaps, but still lovely. Useful in a different way.
Our dreams—the rosy glass panes through which we view the light of the future—are sometimes blasted apart in the battles of life. We look down, see our reflections in the splinters. We try to pick up the pieces, but they pierce our flesh with the sting of defeat. In despair, we see our hopes swept into the dustbin, and we walk away.
Behind us, unseen, the master Craftsman collects the bits of color. He turns them over in His hands, gently. He grieves that His extraordinary handiwork has been marred by wrong.
Yet He does what we cannot. He takes the cracked pieces and reshapes them, remolds them, replaces them in settings heat-sealed by the irresistible warmth of His grace. His light pours through them in new directions.
Open your eyes and see your life in the hands of your masterful Creator. See how He is making all things new. Watch how He will write His story in your picture window.
Father, Creator of Light…Jesus, Light of the World…Holy Spirit, Illuminator of our hearts—how we worship You, the great Trinity, for Your great love and beauty. Enlighten our minds, illuminate our paths, color our world so that we may serve You in joyful awe and wonder. Thank You for healing us, restoring us, and repurposing us for Your glory. In Your majesty and power, O Christ, Amen.
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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Note: This is an edited “repost” of the first blog I uploaded to this website in 2018. Cousin Penny came for a visit this weekend and gave me this beautiful bracelet below, made from colored glass windows saved from a Baptist church torn down in Cherokee County, North Carolina.