The Life of Jesus Christ depicted in the Memorial Stained-Glass Windows
at St. Petersburg First United Methodist Church
The Story of the Windows
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Flooding the sanctuary with a mellow, restful light, the beautiful stained-glass windows of First United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida, create an atmosphere of lofty solemnity, yet the dominant note is inspiring simplicity.
The windows are richly ornamental and in perfect harmony with the modified Gothic architecture of the building constructed in 1926. They were created for the sanctuary by one of the oldest and largest American studios, the George Hardy Payne Studios of Paterson, New Jersey.
Ten “portraits” of Our Lord Jesus Christ, from His birth to His ascension into heaven, depict the highlights of His life and teaching. Nine windows, measuring forty-by-sixty-three inches, adorn the east and west walls of the sanctuary. Most of these are re-creations of well-known religious paintings.
The tenth window, a ten-by-eighteen-foot re-creation of Leonardo da Vinci's famous mural, The Last Supper, dominates the south wall of the church. Special interior lighting affords a remarkable view to both worshipers and passers by.
The entire picture work is in the Tiffany style unique to America and is composed of layers of opalescent glass put together with lead to produce the effect of the subject through a combination of colors. Drapery glass, used to create folds and shadows, is made from molded glass of the basic color, then modified with other colors or shades placed on the back of the original piece.
Through the past ten centuries stained-glass windows have served to instruct, inspire and illuminate. These windows have attained national prominence. Many visitors appreciate the beauty of the glasswork and the spiritual messages.
It is our sincere hope that all who see them might share in a deeper Christian experience while reflecting on the meaning of the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Jesus was born to be both Savior and King! The three halos identify the sacred personages of Jesus the Christ Child, Mary His Mother, and Joseph, His earthly father. Behind them is the manger scene, before them, a shepherd and a wise man. The young shepherd, simply dressed, has removed his hat in awesome respect and dropped his staff to the ground, and the bearded wise man from the East has clasped his hands in prayerful attitude. The background window signifies that Christ's message will go out to the world.
Christ in the Temple
46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
At age twelve, Jesus was preparing for “His Father's business” by understanding the Scriptures. In the temple scene, Jesus wears white, symbolizing innocence of soul, purity, and holiness. Three venerable rabbis are before Him. One sits holding the Book of the Law toward which Jesus directs their attention.
The Baptism of Christ
9 It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, ”You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
John the Baptist, forerunner of Jesus, was preaching repentance and baptizing people in preparation for the coming Christ. As John prepared the way of the Lord in the area of the Jordan River east of Jerusalem, Jesus came to be baptized ”to fulfill all righteousness.”
John the Baptist, in rough clothing of camel's hair, with leathern girdle across his shoulder, holds the shell, a symbol of purification, in his right hand above the head of Christ. The slender reed staff is the sign that has traditionally marked the forerunner. Jesus, the person of true humility, wears white, symbolic of light and the Godhead. His hands are crossed over His heart in submission.
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
The Good Shepherd
14 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
The Good Shepherd window illustrates Jesus' close relationship with His followers. In this scene Jesus carries the lamb tenderly in His arms. Christ asks all the people to follow Him and live in His protective arms.
The Rich Young Ruler
Luke 18:18, 20-24
18 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
20 “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”
21 And he said, ”All these things I have kept from my youth.”
22 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 23 But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. 24 And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”
Before Jesus stands the self-satisfied young man with opulent garments and evasive eyes. Jesus watches the handsome ruler while gesturing with both hands toward two of the world's needy just outside the door.
From left to right: Bartholomew, James the Younger, Andrew, Judas, Peter, John, Jesus the Christ, Thomas, James the Elder, Philip, Matthew, Thaddeus, and Simon.
The Last Supper
19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. 20 When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. 21 Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” 22 And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”
The re-creation of The Last Supper is both masterpiece and message. The original, by Leonardo da Vinci, is located on the north wall of a small monastery in Milan, Italy. It presents Christ and all twelve disciples as life-size personalities. Each is individual, each expression and gesture unique, even Judas with resolute face and clutched money bag.
The occasion is the final Passover supper before the crucifixion, and the announcement of betrayal sets the emotional scene for the question, “Is it I, Lord?” Christ, the central figure, is downcast and thoughtful, one hand upturned, the other palm downward.
Da Vinci's detail concerning food and eating utensils shows items typical of monastery life rather than the Jewish Seder. The bread and the cup remain the symbols of Christ’s broken body and shed blood, the elements of Holy Communion in remembrance of His life and sacrificial love.
Christ in Gethsemane
The Prayer in the Garden
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”
39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
After the Passover meal in the Upper Room, Jesus went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Christ in Gethsemane portrays the intense agony He experienced. Through prayerful communication with God, He accepted God's will.
The garden has become a barren rock, a thorn bush the only growing plant. The light around Christ is a sign of glory, and His hands are clasped in prayerful resolve. His struggle is over, His face serene, His will subservient to the Father's.
33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.
26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
At the foot of the cross are Mary, mother of Jesus, and John, the beloved disciple. The Roman letters I.N.R.I. above the thorn-crowned Christ are Pilate's superscription standing for ”Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
The Cross has become a mark or sign of the Christian religion, the emblem of atonement, and the symbol of salvation through Christ.
John 20:13-14, 16
13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
The risen Christ, the grateful Mary Magdalene, the open and empty tomb, the unused pot of spices, the lilies in bud and bloom, the living cedars - all testify to victory over death.
8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus Ascends to Heaven
9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
Jesus the Christ stands suspended in the clouds. His hands are outstretched in benediction. His eyes are directed downward to the disciples He had commissioned and toward the new believers who would become His Church.
13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”