In the sanctuary of the Liberty United Methodist Church, two beautiful stained glass windows enhance the meaning of each service on the sides of the worship area and one more looks over the congregation from the back. On the right window labeled to honor the donor, "The Ladies Aid Society", Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gesthemane. In the garden, Jesus prayed alone, then was betrayed and arrested.
Among other thoughts as I looked at that window last Sunday, I recall that one of my Grandma Mary Jonas' favorite songs was "In the Garden". (Words and music here) It was in the United Brethren Church hymnal but not in the Methodist Hymnal until they merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB, which came after UB) by the way. The chorus of the song proclaims, "And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known."
The second verse includes, "And the melody That He gave to me, Within my heart is ringing." There was always a melody ringing in my Grandma's heart, in fact she really enjoyed singing, "In My Heart There Rings a Melody". (words/music here) It could be the title of her biography, should it ever be written.
The stained glass window on the left as one faces the alter is the image of Jesus knocking on a door, carrying a cane in His left hand while knocking with the back of His right hand. I had forgotten the cane, but remember, "Behold I stand at the door and knock." The door has no handle since we're supposed to open it from the inside for Him when He knocks at our hearts. In the lowest part of the stained glass are the words, "By the Children of the Circuit".
The image in the rearmost stained glass window is Jesus holding a lamb in the crook of His right arm. The story is found in Matthew and Luke:
Matthew 18:12-14 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
Luke 15:4-7 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
The story is beautifully depicted in the window and the hymn is in the United Brethren Hymnal (and not in the Methodist Hymnal, where the Wesley's rule). (words/music "The Ninety and Nine" Here). This song has some awesome recordings on YouTube if you want to hear other versions (e.g., Tennessee Ernie Ford).
Who knows the donor names on the bottom of this window?
When you come to Liberty United Methodist Church, check out the beautiful and meaningful stained glass windows. They will tell you a story when you're ready to listen. May God continue to bless this church, its people, it's windows and their message. Peace.