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  • Kathy Schick

Hidden Stained Glass

Updated: Nov 21


A family funeral took me to the heart of Iowa this week. I realized this might be the last time I’d be drawn near the two neighboring small towns that my parents grew up in, and I decided it was time to take a mini tour of my roots. I drove to my maternal grandfather’s farm, and what used to be a restaurant my mom waitressed for in high school. I drove to my dad’s high school football field and the house he lived in as a teenager.


The final stop was the church my paternal grandfather ministered in fifty years ago. I was apprehensive and concerned that it may have been torn down as I heard the church had a new building now. Completely unaware of the actual address, I wandered up and down each street of Nevada, Iowa until I found that beautiful brick structure.


The sign said it was a community resource center- and it was open. The office staff was gracious, and offered to take me for a tour. I saw my old Sunday school classroom and remembered the face of the kind woman that taught me. I was taken to the old fellowship hall where I remember piles of rice krispie treats. The part I cherish most was the sanctuary, where most of my memories exist. The room now serves as a cheerily decorated preschool with a ceiling dropped just far enough that I can still see the wood beams that used to arch to a peak. There were the same large wooden doors that I remember, and just behind a covering I could see that the large stained glass of Jesus the Good Shepherd had kept it’s home. As a young child, it was my favorite thing about grandpa’s church as as he preached I would often turn around to see the sun brighten that comforting image on the glass.


Clearly a lot of good was happening in the building, but I had to wonder- was it still a place under the influence of our Good Shepherd? As if my tour guide heard my thoughts, she shared a story. When the government bought the building all religious symbols needed covered to maintain separation of church and state. One morning a little boy asked what was behind the covering, and she descried the image to him. As the rest of his class arrived for school she heard him whisper to them in excitement while pointing to the cover: “Jesus is hiding- but He’s HERE.”


I was reminded that the church doesn’t exist as a building with steeples or stained glass- the church exists within you and me. As walking temples of the Holy Spirit we sometimes experience moments of unspeakable awe and gratitude, overwhelmed with the presence of God. Other moments leave us with the loneliness of a weary traveler far from our eternal home, and longing for a richer feeling of the presence of God. I hope the next time these darker moments find you you’ll remember the message of this little boy; “Jesus is hiding, but he’s HERE.”


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