Our Stained-Glass Windows
Beaver Ridge is proud of our stained-glass windows which line our sanctuary. Each window was designed and created by our own Leslie Little. We are proud, amazed and overwhelmed with this inspirational gift of not only Leslie's skills but her selfless gifts to our community & church.
When you come to our church, we hope that our windows will illuminate not only the Bible in brand-new & revealing ways but also your spiritual journey. To learn more about these windows, we offer their story from their creator Leslie Little.
Leslie Little, April 2018
Let me begin by saying that it has been an honor and a privilege to be able to design and create the stained glass windows for the BRUMC sanctuary. The trust, encouragement, and love that has surrounded me during this process has been a blessing for me; the congregation should rightfully claim a key role in their creation.
The windows are of abstract design for a reason: so that everyone can look at them and develop their own interpretation of what they mean. As a child, I never truly appreciated abstract art. I had a roommate in college who tried to introduce me to some of the basic concepts. (She was an art major, who later went into engineering ... but that's another story.) Maybe some of that long-ago experience lay dormant until now to bloom in my retirement. That said, here are my thoughts on the windows; I encourage you to fill in the gaps and explore additional meanings.
The overall concept I wanted to create is one of flow, of the dancing from one age to the next with key moments of time captured. The windows transverse a timeline that begins with the beginning (creation), focuses on the life of Christ, and looks ahead to the end of the world as we know it (Armageddon) and the promise of heaven beyond. The life of Jesus Christ is the key focus.
For I am the Lord of the Dance, said He
I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
I'll lead you all in the dance, said He
Located back of sanctuary, right of the entrance
Looking at the back of the sanctuary, to the right of the entrance, is my concept of creation...lots of color, lots of energy. In the bottom left is a whirl of color that I think of as God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit working together to spin out the world. Notice that there are six glass plates surrounding this creative force. They represent the six 'days' of creation. And all of life flows out of the creative force with energy and spirit...
I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun.
And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth.
At Bethlehem I had my birth.
Located back of sanctuary, 2nd panel right of the entrance
The next frame as you move clockwise is a representation of the Exodus from Egypt. Think of the Jewish people as being the "fractured" stream of colors (indicating many individuals of different shapes, sizes, temperaments and capabilities), Moses represented by the glass plate cradled by the blue waters of the Red Sea, all following the pillar of fire provided by the Lord as a beacon to leave Egypt and find their promised land.
Kings and Prophets
3rd panel right of the entrance
Fast forward a bit in the Old Testament to the next window, which represents the time of Kings and Prophets, with the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel (the two plates) separated by a stream of conflict (the red band). The Jewish people were more segregated into their individual clans during this timeframe; hence more individual colors, This was a period of many conflicts and many changes,
ultimately resulting in the Jewish people being exiled from their homes and the temple they'd built in Jerusalem.
4th panel right of the entrance
Exile ended as promised by God, but the Jews' land was still occupied by a series of foreign empires: the Assyrians, the Persians, then finally the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus' birth. The next window shows the Jewish people (the fractured stream reappears as they drew together in shared misery) and their conquerors (the plates) separated by a red ribbon of strife. The Jewish way of life has a structure and cohesion of its own, but it is ruled over with what is at times a tyranny. The Romans allowed, and even encouraged, the Jews to maintain their beliefs and traditions, but there was an underlying fear of pushing their overseers too far. The religious leaders were straddling the gulf between the Romans with their military strength and the Jewish people It is in this tense setting that Christ was born.
I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee,
But they would not dance
and they would not follow me;
I dance for the fishermen,
for James and John;
They came to me
and the dance went on.
5th panel right of the entrance
The first cross represents the crucifixion of Christ. He was crucified by the very people He sought to save; note that the fractured stream makes up the cross, bounded by dark blue to indicate their sorrow. The blue plate in the center represents the Christ (as the center of our lives), surrounded by His apostles (12 clear nuggets, plus one black one representing Judas Iscariot). Rolling hills are depicted in the background to indicate the earthly setting.
I danced on the Sabbath when I cured the lame,
The holy people said it was a shame;
They whipped and they stripped and the hung me high,
And they left me there on a cross to die.
I danced on a Friday and the sky turned black,
It's hard to dance with the devil on your back;
They buried my body and they thought I'd gone
But I am the dance and I still go on.
Panel 6, 5th left of the entrance
Look over the sanctuary to the second cross, which represents the resurrection and ascension of Christ. Note the cross is still comprised of fractured glass streamers—representing the myriad of people He died to save—but here it is bounded by the red of victory. The background frames the cross and directs your focus to the center, which holds the traditional dove of peace.
They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the life that'll never, never die.
I'll live in you if you'll live in me
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.
Panel 7, 5th left of the entrance
The next window represents the birth of the church— Pentecost. It includes: three large glass plates(representing the presence of the Trinity), eleven smaller disks (representing the lesser apostles), and two colored disks (representing the leadership roles that Peter and Paul filled to found the early churches). All of the apostles (and more people besides) had impacts, and the streams of color emanating from each disk is intended to portray the vivid creative power that was present at Pentecost and the following period of growth.
Dance then, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He
And I'll lead you all wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the dance, said He.
Panel 8, 4th left of the entrance
As the Church matured, different doctrines have developed. You could think of it as Catholic versus Protestant, or fundamentalist versus traditional versus contemporary, or... There are many different church doctrines that have developed over the years that tend to separate our Christian family. Each doctrine—ag depicted by a fractured stream—starts with an open design, and gradually compresses into a more solid stream, indicating a more rigid structure and definition. Although the doctrines may intersect, there is little exchange of ideas going on. The Trinity is still with us, as evidenced by the plates running through the center.
Panel 9, 2nd left of the entrance
The next window is a representation of Armageddon—the end times. In reality, two windows laid on top of each other, the flames and smoke (or pestilence) are indicators of the chaos of these times. Look carefully, and you can still make out the three "churches" in the midst of this chaos; each stream is shrinking as it passes through the hellish situation, but each is still viable. The presence of the Trinity is still there, albeit seemingly less prominent.
Panel 10, 1st left of the entrance
The final window is a concept of the doorway into Heaven, framed by prisms of light. The remnants of all the churches can be seen entering the doorway, then combining with the others to form an inclusive encompassing frame for celebrating the light of Heaven. Barriers are gone, and we are a single brotherhood.
I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to share both the windows and my ideas about them with the BRUMC congregation. ~ Leslie Little
In majesty, the World God wrought,
Earth and Sky, Water and Rock
Life brought forth in all Diversity,
All the colors make a whole, you see
Then fractured sin creates gaps where none before
But Son and Cross redeemed
and in Grace we are secure
For when the glory of God shines through
It touches Hearts and makes anew
Dean Little, 2018