At yesterday’s evening Mass (Saturday) we formally dedicated our new Creation Window that is situated in the curved bay at the rear of the church (formerly the baptistry). Working visually as one piece, the three windows together celebrate the rich beauty of our natural world and the love, care and protection given and received during the recent pandemic.
The window design features bees to represent the workers that kept us going in the pandemic; leaves for the natural world that sustained us; colour for the rainbows we made; roots that anchored us; the herbs rosemary for remembrance and sage for health; and a pair of birds for the many we heard singing more clearly in that first lockdown of Spring 2020.
The whole design is created in the spirit of St Francis of Assisi who remains renowned for his love of the natural world. And each separate window contains a text from the prayer attributed to St Francis, and these are included in the Dedication Prayer:
O God of earth and sea and sky,
we thank you for the rich beauty of our natural world
and for the love, care and protection given and received during the recent pandemic.
In the spirit of St Francis,
inspire us afresh to care for the earth, our common home,
and where there is despair to bring faith,
where there is darkness, light
and where there is sadness, joy. Amen.
On behalf of all of us for whom Holy Name is our spiritual home, I offer heartfelt thanks to Brigid Jones for her magnificent and inspiring design, and to Phil Crook who made and installed the windows.
In the Gospel text for this Mass (John 14:23-29) we have Jesus promising at the Last Supper that after he physically left them, following his resurrection, God would send them an ‘Advocate’ or assistant. While he, Jesus, might become physically absent from their lives – because he was ‘going to the Father’ in heaven – he would be with them in a new, invisible, way. This Advocate would be at their side, supporting them through life and drawing them into the very life of God.
In this new relationship with God, they would be given Jesus’ gift of peace, a kind of peace, he said, that “the world cannot give”. This would not just be the mere absence of conflict or having a trouble-free life. It would be an inner peace that comes from knowing they are cherished and loved by God, whatever their shortcomings or failings. Therefore, they should not be ‘troubled or afraid’: with the help of the Advocate, they would be secure in God’s love.
In time, Christians came to associate this Advocate with what we now call the Holy Spirit. In Christin art this Spirit has been commonly represented as a dove, since the Gospels describe something like a dove hovering over Jesus at his baptism.
Our new Creation Window features not just one but a pair of doves. In the design they remind us of the birdsong we heard more clearly than ever in those early months of the pandemic, two years ago. However, they can also remind us of the role of the Holy Spirit in being the Divine energy that creates and sustains the natural world.
Moreover, while our version of today’s Gospel text uses the word “Advocate”, the King James Version, first published in 1611, translates the original Greek word as “Comforter”. So we can also associate the doves in the window to represent the many people who brought us comfort and solace, in small and large ways, in those fearful days of the pandemic. In the bookmark specially made for this occasion, you will find other features of the design – so do please take one.
For all the love and care given and received in the pandemic and for the rich beauty of our natural world, which our new Window celebrates, we give thanks. We also give thanks to everyone who contributed to the cost of the window. And we renew our thanks to Bridget and Phil for the rich and inspiring adornment they have provided for our community.
Holy Name, Jesmond
22 May 2022