Mar 20-21, 2021
From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Jason Cheung
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Lord, how can man preach thy eternal word?
He is a brittle crazy glass;
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
This glorious and transcendent place,
To be a window, through thy grace.
– George Herbert, The Windows (first verse)
“To Be A Window, Through Thy Grace”
Why would God in his infinite wisdom shine his grace to broken sinners?
It has been a little over twenty years since God’s grace gripped my heart, stirred my imagination to his salvation, and changed the course of my life. And yet, I still am awestruck by this consideration: God loves sinners.
When old church buildings were constructed, window manufacturing techniques were elementary. So old stained windows in churches could either be weak and brittle, or thick and “crazy” (or, wavy). Normally they chose thick/”crazy” for more durable windows. Though Herbert, the poet, says the preacher is both “a brittle and crazy glass.” In other words, preachers are weak and strong. How is this so?
Well, I can attest the sense of weakness for every preaching moment. I am called to preach, to this I hold dear as a privilege but also a wonder. Why would God choose and use me? This is how I often feel weak, even inadequate. But I can also attest moments in preaching when I know it is undoubtedly not me from which power speaks. It is always the power of God, not because of me, but through me.
In a way, we are all windows even though we are not all called to preach. Every Christian called to follow Jesus is given light to shine forth. It’s just that we all must learn that the light we shine – is not ourselves, but Christ. He makes us – his church, his body – as windows through which his grace pervades.
How is God’s grace seen in our lives?
Stained glass is made not by applying paint on the surface of the glass. Annealing is the process by which glass is heated, melted to such a point that paint can be poured in. When cooled again, the window is infused with color, and thus the artist creates. Herbert suggests God does the same with us, as windows, annealing within us his story:
But when thou dost anneal in glass thy story,
Making thy life to shine within
The holy preachers, then the light and glory
More reverend grows, and more doth win;
The immensely humbling thing about this idea is we are but brittle and crazy glass. Not so strong, and not so beautiful – and yet, when Christ’s life anneals within our own, his light and glory grows and is seen.
Malcolm Guite comments that the word ‘stained’ almost always refers to something negative. But the one and only context in which the word is used redemptively is when referring to stained glass. Guite comments on Herbert’s poem:
And what I see Herbert saying…is that we take our passions, and sometimes our faults and our brokenness and our stains, and we let God anneal his story. So there’s some point in which we become a window of grace, not, Herbert says, by being some pure, clear, beautiful thing …but by this annealing process where our colors and the colors of Christ’s passion run together in the glass.
Why would God in his infinite wisdom shine his grace to broken sinners? I can’t fully fathom why.
But he does it.
And my heart is delighted “to be a window, through thy grace.”