Hello Baysiders! Hope the start of the new year is treating you well! Let’s thank God for all the rain that we have been getting in the Bay. We need it so much in our dry environment and for our wells and reservoirs to be refilled.
I have a question. Did you know our church has a Catholic and medieval feature to it? How you might ask when we are Southern Baptist as a denomination? It’s true, our church is gothic. No, not gothic like the fashion style of a teenager who wears all black and dark eye shadow. I mean gothic as a style of architecture prevalent in western Europe in the 12th–16th centuries, characterized by pointed arches, rib vaults, elaborate tracery, and with large stained glass windows. Bayside Church physically has a gothic feature and its our stain glass windows. Our goth feature and a staple art piece is the stained glass window of the dove descending down behind the baptismal on the stage in the sanctuary. Every time I see it I am captivated by the blue colors and image it’s expressing to us as we worship.
I am no art enthusiast but I do have some Bible knowledge and understand the story of the gospel to the point of winning at Bible trivia. I believe the stained glass at our church is telling us three truths. First, Christ is with us. The dove falling down from the sky is from the story of Jesus’ baptism. This account of Jesus’ life is one of the few that is mentioned in all four gospels! This means it’s a pretty important event to know and not to overlook. After John baptizes him, Jesus is lifted out of the water and then Matthew says the Holy Spirit descended down to Jesus like a dove! Matthew 3:16 says, “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.” This image on the glass communicates to us that Christ is here with us and is at the center and purpose for every baptism and ministry effort we do. Jesus obeyed God the Father to fulfill all righteousness and the act of his baptism is a picture of dying for us yet resurrected as he comes up out of the water. This is the gospel in a nutshell. Jesus knows our humanity and understands our plight with sin. In his baptism, he demonstrates the oneness of our humanness. Jesus here at Bayside is the primary truth of the stained glass.
Secondly, I believe it tells us we have peace with God no matter what we face and who we are. A dove in scripture symbolizes peace. Think of Noah in the ark waiting to board off the boat and walk on land when God sends a dove to him with a palm branch letting him know there is peace on earth now. There is no more storm, rain, and destruction but it’s time to start anew, fresh beginnings and peace is possible. This is the promise of the dove. In Jesus, we can have peace; peace at church, peace for relational drama, peace over sin, peace in anxiety, peace between God and our fellow human beings. Where do you need peace right now? Enter church and find it. How do you attain peace? Come to church and get it. Who do you go to for peace? Be part of a church and learn it. That’s the promise with the dove falling down on the water. The dove flies over peaceful quiet waters and not rowdy rough waters. Church is the place with still waters and we as God’s sheep are invited to come drink from the living water every time we gather. The second truth is the dove of Christ is over Bayside Church.
Lastly, I see the ongoing Spirit of God active in our lives and he speaks love over us as a church. You want God’s love? Go to Bayside Church. Right after the dove descends on Jesus, God speaks and says He is well pleased with Jesus being his beloved son. The stained glass of the dove descending is a continual reminder that God is at work in our lives and we are well pleasing to him. Isn’t that good news? God is descending upon us right now, at church or when you are at home alone trying to make the wise choice in a difficult situation. God is descending upon us with his love. You don’t have God’s wrath, sadness, or judgement falling on you but rather his love falling on you. There’s a false caricature of God out there in the world that says he throws thunder bolts at us when we upset him. But that’s a false theology and actually comes from the theology of the Greeks, from the god Zeus. God sends a bird on us. That’s right! A pretty pure white bird is falling on us. That’s not threatening at all because it’s a peace sign that God is on good terms with us. He wants to give us his peace by his love. That’s the power of the stained glass! His peace is falling on us no matter if we are in the middle of sin or don’t feel like worshiping him. Peace is still always available to us if we choose to see it.
So next time you are at church, gaze and think upon the gothic image of the gospel’s descending dove. Jesus is buried with us in our sin and resurrects us with him for new life and peace with God, who is active in our lives, descending always upon us with his love. That’s motivation for worship at church all the time.