One of the big jokes in our family has to do with Bill and his travel “guide books”. He buys a new book for every trip we take and keeps it in his hands as we travel around. He reads it incessantly (often to our chagrin). Sometimes we mouth to each other “are you listening?” and we all realize Bill is reading out loud to only himself. We think it is hysterical, but the truth of it is we’d probably be lost and not learn nearly as much without our trusty guide and his beloved guidebook.
We used his guide book to map our days in Paris. The city has no shortage of commanding monuments to visit such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Champs-Elysees but I think my favorite place to visit is the Sainte-Chapelle. This quiet chapel is described as a “triumph of Gothic church architecture” with a “cathedral of glass like no other”.
I couldn’t agree more.
The beautiful stain glass windows of this church tell the story of the Bible from the creation story in Genesis to the coming of Christ over the altar to the end of the world at the back of the church.
Even the floors are beautiful.
While we were waiting to enter the chapel Bill read something from his guide book that stopped me. I asked him to read it again. The thought of it was as stunning as the stained glass windows of this beautiful church. He was reading from the Rick Steves, Paris 2016 book and it said this:
“Fiat Lux. Let there be light. From the first page of the Bible, it’s clear: Light is divine. Light shines through stained glass like God’s grace shining down to earth”.
What a beautiful thought! The people felt like God’s grace was shining through the windows of their church. It went on to say:
“The Gothic architects used their new technology to turn dark stone buildings into lanterns of light. The glory of Gothic shines brighter here than in any other church”.
And guess what?
Without the light of Jesus (the Light of the World) in us we are all “dark stone buildings”. But when we trust and believe in Him and the Holy Spirit resides in us … we can shine God’s grace out to the world. He uses us as light bearers and we get to let His glory shine brightly through us to the world.
While there we sat in a chair taking in each of the panels, finding different Bible stories and seeing how the artist depicted the scene. We read what Bill’s guidebook said about each of the stories.
When we got to the story of Moses we read this…“See how many guys with bright yellow horns you can spy. Moses is shown with horns as the result of a medieval mistranslation of the Hebrew word for ‘rays of light,’ or halo”.
Let me translate.
The conversation had to go something like this …. after all these beautiful stories were crafted and installed someone saw horns on Moses (and many other characters) and said “Hey, why are there horns on Moses?” and the artist said … “because the story said ‘horns’.” And then the person replied … “It didn’t say HORNS, it said RAYS OF LIGHT”. And then the artist said “OH NO, I thought it said ‘horns’.
(Y’all, that is funny).
I absolutely love that those stained glass window Bible story depictions aren’t perfect. They are flawed.
They are just like us.
And yet we, despite our flaws and imperfections, can still shine the light of God’s glory to the world.