THE RESCURRECTION WINDOW
As you sit quietly in the sanctuary, we invite you to look to your left and contemplate the magnificent Resurrection window from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios, installed over 125 years ago. Our church was built at the same time that the Columbian Exhibition was going up in Chicago where it was meant to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus "discovering" America in 1492! The hope of the Exhibition was to showcase all the wonderful things that America had developed in both arts and industry, but there were so many firms all trying to build their exhibits at the same time that construction delays were inevitable. Most everything had to be shipped by rail and unloaded onto horse-drawn wagons.
The Exhibition wasn't ready until nearly a year later. The beautiful marble buildings that now adorn the University of Chicago campus were highlights of the architectural exhibition. You see that reflected in the tomb from which Jesus is emerging. (It's very unlikely that his borrowed tomb really looked anything like this!) Angels stand with him on either side while the Roman soldiers cast lots for his garments. Look carefully at the left and right sidelights. Do you see that it was early dawn when the women ran to his tomb? They are Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary, the mother of James. (Luke 24:10) and they have come with spices and ointments to prepare Jesus' body for burial. When the disciples come to the tomb, see how it is much later in the day? Tiffany has chosen bright golden glass to highlight this time difference to faithfully convey the details mentioned in the Scripture passages.
John 20:3-4 says that Mary Magdalene "ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid him. Peter then came out with the other disciple and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first."
Can you see that only the faces, the hands, and the beautifully manicured feet are painted? Outside, if you look at this same window, you will see only milk glass behind these parts. Tiffany has layered the glass in order to come as close to a flesh tone as possible. Also, see how all the leaves and fruit are each a separate piece of glass that has been wrapped in copper foil and placed together as a glass "puzzle" where it was then soldered together. Elsewhere, lead cames hold the glass in place, but where the glass has been manipulated and "rippled" while still molten, it is too thick and undulating to push into a channel or groove in the lead, so these places that have sometimes as many as four thicknesses are foiled also!
All stained-glass windows require additional support "bars" as a window increases in height. Often, separate panels are stacked, usually every 4 or 5 feet, and then steel support bars are added within each section about every two feet. Where these bars would interfere with the design or faces, Tiffany bent the rebar to preserve the scene. Look at the soldier and see how the support bar wraps around his arm and helmet rather than straight through his face.
Each section of this 30' high window was packed in a wooden crate and then straw was pushed into the crate to hold the panels upright. Each crate was then strapped to a pallet and sent from New York to Pittsburgh. Local glaziers were hired to install and assemble the full window after erecting wooden scaffolding inside and out!
Should you wish to see the details of our windows being removed and restored, you can go to the YouTube web site — “Calvary United Methodist Church, Pittsburgh, PA” — and see the work explained in fascinating detail by Stained Glass Resources.
Windows like ours are priceless treasures. Tiffany windows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York city are guarded by professionals who would prevent you from coming too close to them. Here, they bless us with their beauty and message.
It is our hope and prayer that you will be inspired by them as they have inspired countless others over the years.
Nancy Richards (Calvary UMC Member), April 12, 2019