For key insight into the character of an individual, a community, a business, or a church, ask about their heroes. Who are their saints? A community that beatifies John C. Calhoun or Robert E. Lee, for example, has revealed volumes about its values.
With stained glass, every church immortalizes its saints from the distant past, up until about the nineteenth century, or whenever the main building went up, in our case 1892—David, Paul, Peter, Luther, Calvin, Sears, Swedenborg.
But in 1993, the generosity of Kenilworth Union members—many whose names are familiar to us—constructed the Malott Chapel and laced its walls with newer heroes.
Gil Bowen’s sanctified imagination must have been the energy behind those stained-glass windows, but many of you must have participated in that inspired choice as well.
There are five windows depicting 15 individuals, one historical event, and a global organization. Those windows are almost 30 years old now, but it’s remarkable how prescient those 1992 decisions proved to be and how well those saints are standing up to the test of history.
Those 15 saints were among the bravest, smartest, most Christ-like leaders of the twentieth century. Universally, they faced difficult, even impossible, choices, and got them right, invariably.
If there is a common theme, they were all relentless crusaders for the dignity, thriving, and equality of every human person, with a conspicuous, unmistakable preference for poor, persecuted, puny people.
Tell me whom you admire, and I will tell you who you are. These are our heroes. They tell us who we are. It’s a beautiful story.
SHAFTS OF LIGHT SERMON SERIES
(April 18 – July 18, 2021)