Stained Glass and Stained People
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true
In the beauty of our sanctuary at church you’ll find stunning windows of stained glass, telling the greatest story ever told. Jesus came to bring life to mankind through His sacrificial life death and resurrection.
Interestingly, inside and outside those windows you find what we might call…stained people. I would gladly count myself in this group.
Many a Sunday I’ve joined in the words of the old hymn, “And sinners plunged beneath that flood loose all their guilty stains.”
Two nights ago I was reminded of this great truth when I left the church late at night after an awesome Bible study with nearly 400 men. A number of men came forward to confess their “stains” and give their lives to Jesus Christ, who declared, “Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them whiter than snow.” Only a few minutes later I met a different group of men. As I made my way to my car, these men were preparing their beds of cardboard and old rugs on the sidewalk as I walked through them. I had to stop. I knelt down to meet them, one by one. I found out their names, their ages, their backgrounds.
I learned of their families, and of the struggles that had now left them with the very visible, “stain,” of homelessness. The stories were fascinating. One man, lets call him Derrick, 46 years old, held multiple degrees from NYU and was the former spokesperson for Hilton Hotel in North Raleigh. One of his co-workers told me the next day that he’s the “nicest person you’ll ever meet, and he’d gladly give you the shirt off his back.” He used to be a social worker for an outreach program in Harlem, ironically working with…the homeless. He’d fallen on hard times and now sat before me with only the clothes on his back, a small backpack, and a thermos. Engaging him in conversation, I felt more like I was talking to a college professor than a homeless man. I asked him what I could do for him. His only response…a cup of water.
Then there was Carl, a 53 year old unemployed AC and heating technician, who said the 3 things he really needs are a job, a roof over his head, and to be able to care for his 11 year old daughter. I took note that he mentioned his birthday is next Wednesday. I immediately thought how cool it would be to celebrate this man’s birthday with a party. It was only a week ago that I walked into a downtown restaurant only to realize that people came to throw me a surprise birthday party.
My heart tells me that Jesus’ love extends to the highest and brightest places and also to the deepest and darkest places. Stained glass, and stained people. Barbara Brown Taylor writes in her book, “An Altar in The World,” that God doesn’t dwell in buildings made by men but He freely moves all around us.” Perhaps my reading of Matthew 25 will be, “Lord but when did I see you hungry, and naked, and sick…? And I’ll know the answer: Tuesday October 4th outside on the sidewalk. My name back then was Carl.