Wednesday, August 22, 2012
BEAMING THE LIGHT OUT
Outside Westminster Abbey, London, England
The chapel of Sainte-Chapelle was built to house Jesus’ crown of thorns. Once you climb the stairs up to the second level you are instantly bathed in colorful light from the surrounding stained glass windows towering overhead. For the human senses, being bathed in warm colorful light can enhance a very religious experience. When a service begins with youth walking into the sanctuary carrying glowing candle lighters, the symbolism of bringing the light of Christ into our midst can prepare us for spending quality time with our creator. Churches and cathedrals the world over have invested huge sums of money in installing these wonderful works of light art that prepare our hearts and minds as we enter into our places of worship.
When the spiritual service is concluded, the youth reenter the sanctuary and relight their candle lighters from the alter candles as they snuff them out. Then the light is taken back out into the world. The symbolism is important, but I can’t help but wonder if it is lost on many folks. If you’ve ever passed by a large cathedral or place of worship with stained glass windows, have you noticed how dark and uninviting they can seem to be from the outside? On the other hand, clear glass windows with interior lighting brightly shine outward on a dark overcast day. Colored glass windows can add to the worship experience, but I think we need to be careful not to capture the beautiful light for ourselves and be certain to let the light reflect outwards into the world with us as we worship and as we depart.