(Author’s note: This is the manuscript for my message on August 5, 2018 at FUMC Winnfield and is the ninth in my “Windows to the Soul” sermon series expounding on the Christian symbolism present in our church buildings and sanctuary windows at FUMC Winnfield. My sources are listed at the end. Much of this information is from “FUMC Winnfield: Christian Symbolism and History” published in 2012. I decided to publish in case some were absent and would like to read my message.)
Over the last weeks we have been looking at the reminders of God all around in the symbolism of our church building and stained glass windows. Today we come to window number 8 in memory of Carolyn Sue Smith.
Carolyn Sue Smith was born March 23 1939 in Winnfield. She died Sep 6 1950 (aged 11) in Winnfield. She is buried in the Winnfield Cemetery.
Her obituary reads: Tragedy struck suddenly this week in Winnfield with the untimely death of Carolyn Sue Smith, 11 year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Troy Smith. Carolyn became very ill Tuesday afternoon at her father’s store, the Jitney Jungle supermarket, and was taken to a local hospital, where she died at 2:45 a.m. Wednesday.
Funeral services were conducted at the First Methodist Church with the pastor, Rev. P. M. Caraway, the former pastor, Rev. Fred S. Flurry, of Hammond,, and Rev. Alwin Stokes, officiating. The Methodist choir sang, “Lead, Kindly Light.”
Carolyn was born in Winnfield on March 23, 1939 and had lived here all her life. She was in the sixth grade in Winnfield School, where she was especially interested in science and math and did excellent work in this field. She was everyone’s friend, having a sweet disposition and a habit of being kind to everyone. Her classmates loved her and showed this by electing her to several positions of honor in her classes.
She was a member of the elementary chorus and the band at school, and was a member of the Girl Scouts. She was active in the Junior Department of the Methodist Church and was a member of the Methodist junior choir. Surviving, besides her parents, are one brother, Troy Lynn; her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. F. O. Lattier, Winnfield, and Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Smith, Timpson, Texas.[i]
Carolyn was the sister of Troy Lynn Smith- Missy Smith’s husband. She had an Aneurysm upstairs at the store and died next day. Died Sept 6 on Missy’s birthday, whom she had just met. It was a tragedy that affected their family for many years to come. But even in her few years on this earth, she seems to have made a positive impact on those around her. We remember and celebrate her short life, as well as the beautiful gift of this window in her memory.
The lyre again represents praise or worship. Psalms 33:2 reads, “Praise the Lord with the lyre, make melody to Him with the harp of ten strings!”
The lyre dates from before the Bronze Age (400-3200BC) and may have evolved from ancient harps. “The fundamental difference between a lyre and a harp, is that in a harp, the strings enter directly into the hollow body of the instrument, whereas on a lyre, the strings pass over a bridge, which transmits the vibrations of the strings to the body of the instrument – just as on a modern guitar.” Concerning the number of strings, each lyre varied in design. Typically there were three, four, seven and sometimes ten strings, each representing certain patterns of frequency (sound) considered appropriate in the design of the instrument i.e. meaning and purpose of the communication.[ii]
The ancient Hebrews had two stringed instruments, the “kinnor” (harp) and the “nebel” (lyre). In both instruments the strings were set in vibration by the fingers, or perhaps by a little stick, the plectrum (as Josephus says). The strings were made of gut, metal strings not being used in olden times. The body of the instrument was generally made of cypress (II Sam. vi. 5) or, in very precious instruments, of sandalwood (I Kings x. 11; A. V. “almug”).
The kinnor and nebel are often mentioned together. As in the case of all instrumental music among the Hebrews, they were used principally as an accompaniment to the voice. Instruments were used on joyous occasions, such as banquets and festive processions (Gen. xxxi. 27; I Sam. x. 5; II Sam. vi. 5; Isa. v. 12), and especially in the Temple service (Ps. xxxiii. 2, xliii. 4; Neh. xii. 27; I Chron. xvi. 5); here also in accompaniment to songs of praise and thanksgiving (I Chron. xvi. 16; II Chron. v. 12; Ps. xxxiii. 2, lvii. 9, lxxi. 22). They were never used on occasions of mourning (Isa. xxiv. 8; Ezek. xxvi. 13; Lam. v. 14; Ps. cxxxvii. 2; Job xxx. 31). The nebel, the lyre, seems to have been reserved exclusively for religious occasions (Amos v. 23; Ps. cxliv. 9). In connection with secular events (Amos vi. 5; Isa. xiv. 11), its use appears to have been regarded as unseemly and profane. It is evident from the Old Testament that the lyre could be played while the performer was walking (I Sam. x. 5; II Sam. vi. 5; Isa. xxiii. 16); hence they must have been easy to carry.[iii] The lyre reminds us of the joy of music and praising God through song.
B: Dove with Olive Branch and Noah’s Ark
The dove with olive branch is a symbol of peace. When Noah’s ark is used, it stands for salvation or more particularly the salvation which the Church affords. Thus it is often used as a symbol of the Church.
We already examined the symbolism of the dove on two prior windows, so this morning I’m going to focus on what Noah’s Ark Represents. This morning we shall examine briefly certain aspects of the story of Noah’s ark and how it relates to Christ. If we fail to see Christ in the story of Noah’s ark, we miss the point. The image of Christ portrayed in the Ark offers many parallels.
-The ark was constructed of wood. The cross upon which Jesus died was constructed of wood.
-Noah was instructed to make a single door in the side of the Ark; it was the only entrance into the Ark, and access was controlled by God. Likewise, Jesus said that He is the door, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.
-The Ark carried all of its passengers safely to the destination that God had prepared for them. Jesus said: I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)[iv]
-The word Noah means rest or comfort. Christ is our comfort and rest (Heb 4:4-11).
-Noah built the ark according to God’s revelation, not his own wisdom or imagination (Gen 6:15). This is symbolic of Christ and Christ’s workers, building the church according to God’s plan and not their own plan (Matt 16:18, John 6:38, 1 Cor 3:10-15, Eph 2:20-22).
-The dimensions of the ark was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high (Gen 6:15). We lose the significance of these measurements when we translate them into English dimensions. The number 3 signifies the Trinity (Matt 28:19). The number 5 signifies the creation (four, Rev 4:6-9) plus God (one). 5 (four plus one) is creation in God, or strengthened creation. God created humans with 5 fingers, 5 toes and 5 senses (hear, see, smell, taste, touch).
-Like Christ, the ark was for the salvation of all living things, not just mankind (Col 1:20).[v] Pictures depicting the ark can even be found in the catacombs where the early Christians gathered.[vi] Noah was saved from the water, but through the waters of baptism we are saved. The dove with olive branch and Noah’s ark reminds us God’s salvation through the ark and through Jesus.
C: Lamb on book of seven Seals
According to John 1:29, when John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” This and a similar statement in John 1:36 have brought into being two of our most meaningful symbols of Jesus Christ. One form of this symbol shows a lamb reclining on the Book of the Seven Seals mentioned in Rev. 5:1. The Easter banner symbolizes Christ’s victory over death.
The lamb represents Jesus. A lamb summed up all the sacrifices of the Old Testament. A lamb was described it as “the theological shorthand for all the sacrifices of the Old Testament.” This lamb showed the evidence of having been killed, yet it was alive! Here is Jesus, the One spoken of in prophecy; He is a man, yet sinless; He has been crucified and has been resurrected! Death could not hold Him! He is worthy to break the seals and shower blessings upon the human race by redeeming it. A lamb is the epitome of weakness. As the Lamb of God, Jesus portrayed perfect weakness – He did nothing in His own power; He remained on the cross and died for His enemies!
What do the seals signify? Only the Lamb, whose very life has overcome death, is worthy to open the seals and to redeem humanity. [vii] This seems to be an appropriate end to the windows ringing our sanctuary, for this window panel, more than any other, looks toward the victorious second coming of Christ when the lamb shall become the lion of Judah. The lamb reminds us of the sacrifice of Jesus and that he is coming again.
We love our stained glass windows and we should. But what do people see in us? Does the light of Christ shine through us? The lyre reminds us of the gift of music and the songs of praise to the Lord. The dove and Noah’s ark remind us of God’s salvation through Noah and Jesus. The lamb and the seven seals remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice and the day when he will return. The short life of Carolyn Sue Smith reminds us that there are no guarantees in life and that we can impact lives in only a few short years. The question is will we allow the light of God to shine through us as brightly as it does these windows?