Church Window Restoration
We are delighted to say that the final restored coloured window was put back in place on Thursday 3rd September. In addition to the restoration, discreet guards have been installed on the coloured windows in the north and south aisles, and protection will shortly be positioned on the war memorial window too. Thank you to all who made this work possible; those who donated to the costs of the protection work, and earlier CCTV installation, and to Heritage Stained Glass Ltd. who have restored our windows with such care and skill.
“For where two or three meet together in my name, I am there among them.”
Today, almost a year after they were damaged our windows have been repaired, restored and returned to this holy place. And for that we rejoice and give thanks. We give thanks especially to our wardens, Caroline and Fergus, who have worked diligently to organise the logistics of insurance, obtaining quotations and supervising the work of Heritage Stained Glass and to Bob Tucker, and his team of skilled crafts-people. Although the cost of repairing our windows was met by insurance; the cost of installing protection: the CCTV system and the impressively discreet window-guards had to be paid by us – and, so we are thankful to the anonymous donors and fundraisers, who helped us to meet the costs.
So, what about these windows? Looking at the archive history it would seem that they were installed within ten years after the rebuilding of the nave – in 1847, at some time in the 1850s. If you look carefully at the coloured windows, you can see that the coloured figures are in panels set within an overall pattern and the patterned
borders get cut off and are not symmetrical. This suggests that our windows were re-cycled from another church and made to fit our windows; a very common practice in the Victorian era. Who knows where they were first installed and how they came to be here in Horfield? The mystery of history!
Let’s consider the images of our windows. The one in the north aisle shows the raising from the dead of Lazarus. Mary and Martha are kneeling before Jesus in their sorrow and Jesus is weeping, too, at the loss of his close friend. In the left panel, there is Jesus commanding Lazarus to “come forth!” – and Lazarus is depicted wrapped in bands of cloth – alive.
In the south aisle, we have the scene depicting Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter: “Weep not, she is not dead, but sleepeth”, says Jesus as Jairus and his family kneel around the bed on which his daughter lies, looked on by Jesus and some of the apostles.
The second south aisle window show Jesus welcoming children to him, whilst St. Peter looks on holding an enormous golden key (the symbol of entry to heaven): “Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not, for such is ye kingdom of Heaven and He took them up in His arms, He laid His hands upon them and blessed them.”
These windows are all about resurrection; they are about re-newed life; they are about hope. They are about the power of Jesus’ love. Lazarus; Jairus’ daughter; groups of children are all separated from the life and hope of the kingdom of God - revealed by the love of Jesus, until Jesus intervenes and through his compassion and love brings new life; healing and hope of heaven – God’s kingdom, which is God’s broken and damaged creation, restored and healed.
Our own lives have something precious in common with these windows of lead and glass. Come into this church tonight once the sun has set and you will only make out the bare pattern of the lead and the outline of the shapes it holds in place. The light of the sun has to shine through this glass to reveal the colour and beauty which we can now appreciate. It needs the light to reveal the identity of each Jesus and the effect of his healing love on the sick; the dead and the excluded - and for us to appreciate the rare craftsmanship of the designer and the glass maker and the restorer. So it is with our lives. Without the light of the Holy Spirit we have only the shades and shadows of life and we can only hazard guesses at the meaning of our lives. We have endured, for a year now, the darkness of the boarded-up windows and the grim appearance of mangled lead and broken glass. It takes the light of faith in Jesus Christ, shining through us by the power of the Holy Spirit to restore and reveal our true identity in Christ.
It is then that we come to realise that we, too, are healed and restored by Jesus - to be the precious and loved individuals God has called each of us to be. And that when two or three are gathered, the presence of Jesus enables us to shine with the light of healing love.
When you come here in the day, the light radiates through the windows revealing their beauty and significance – we come to this holy place to be in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and who is given to us in Holy Communion and we are bathed in the light of that love. At night, when the lights are on, the windows shine in a different way – their message of light and hope is proclaimed to a dark world on the outside of this church and reminds us that filled with the radiant love of Christ our vocation is to be radiant with God’s light for the benefit of others out in the world.
At the end of this Mass, the windows will be re-dedicated. This offers an opportunity for the people of this parish to renew our life as disciples of Christ. May the light from these windows always remind you that you are made alive by the light of Jesus’ love and of your vocation as the People of God in Horfield to shine with the light of that love in the wider community. Amen.