“Through the central part of the window is a circle representing the world from which He ascended to sit in glory crowned as King, on a throne from which flows the river of the water of life between the trees of life.”
The central, larger picture ties together the other frames below:
You can see the relationship between these panes clearer in the coloring book version where the world, and the tree of life are more distinct.
Leaving To Be More Fully Present
The Ascension is perhaps one of the least understood, least emphasized and most marginalized portions of the Christian story. Yes, it is a part of the Apostle’s Creed: “ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of the Father”. But does this mean that Jesus has left us? Does He now sit on some far off throne in power and majesty removed from us, waiting to return at some uncertain future while we wait in the lurch? These questions point to the lack of appreciation for the deeper meaning of and importance of the Ascension to our faith journey. Such remoteness is the very opposite of what the ascension really means to us. In reality, it was a story of connection, of empowerment, of commissioning God’s people for the work of the Gospel, not one of disconnection and loss of power. It was the experience and witness of the early church that Jesus in his ascension became more present, more available to all who trust and lean on Him. How is this? Jesus in his early life was available only to those in close contact with Him. After his death and resurrection, He again appeared to his disciples, but these appearances were limited in time and place. However, in his ascension, just as He had promised, He would be present for all people, at all times through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Hence the Ascension is really a deep and powerful affirmation of the real presence of Christ for all people, at all times.
The stained glass windows illustrate this understanding with imagination and clarity, as the ascending Jesus has his feet still resting firmly in the world that He loves so much. And He touches the tree of life with both of his hands. He has left us, but is even more connected to all. This ongoing sense of connectedness and empowerment is not just in the imagination of the artist who created these panels. It is firmly grounded in the Biblical story. All of the Gospels speak of the commissioning and empowering of the followers of Jesus after his resurrection.
The writing of Luke is even more explicit about the Ascension. Luke 24:49 tells us that the resurrected Jesus came to his disciples and reminded them: “And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:50-51 tells of the Ascension: “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was…