Reflections On A Stained Glass Window In Christ Church Woodbury, New Jersey
By Joan A. Mitchell
"I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
Jesus Describing Himself
O Almighty Father, Lord of heaven and earth, the entrance of whose word giveth light: Vouchsafe, we beseech thee, to accept this Window at our hands for the adornment of thy house and praise of thy holy name; and grant that they who worship here, being drawn by the love and contemplation of heavenly things, may be conformed to the image of they dear Son, To whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end.
On Sunday, September 13, 1998 (the Fifteenth Sunday of Pentecost), this window was dedicated in Christ Church Woodbury, New Jersey by The Reverend Douglas E. Anderson, Twelfth Rector of the Church.
The ideas for this window, which were formulated and approved by a committee appointed by Father Anderson, commemorate the life and ministry of The Reverend Canon William V. Rauscher, Rector of Christ Church from 1960 until 1996.
Throughout his lifetime ministry, Canon Rauscher's goal has been to lead people from darkness into light. The Gospels present Jesus as the light bearer. St. John wrote: "In him was life; and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4); and also "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin (I John l:7).
The Gospel of Christ brings people into the light through which we must walk. Consequently, the light which has always illumined the Canon's ministry is the light of Christ. In both Testaments of Holy Scripture, light is significant to spiritual imagery, and symbolizes values which are in direct opposition to darkness. In the Canon's own words: "Slowly, ever so slowly, if we pursue the gospel message, follow the Lord and look to the light of Christ, we are all eventually brought into light."
Canon Rauscher believes light is necessary to define the universe. It is an ultimate, and lies at the heart of cosmology, physics, philosophy, and religion. Following the theme of light, the original sketch for this window was drawn by Kenneth Crocker, master designer and craftsman of the Willet Stained Glass Studios in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Twelve windows designed by Mr. Crocker were installed in Christ Church while Canon Rauscher was Rector. Once finalized, this latest window was also painted and hand crafted by Mr. Crocker, who is considered a genius of stained glass design.
Since 1898, Willet Studios has developed and maintained a reputation as the premiere American studio in the design and fabrication of traditional leaded stained glass windows. It has been said that windows designed by Willett "... create an aura of sublime quietude that soothes the spirit as ever-changing washes of color paint the interior of a church. Intricately leaded panels of hand-painted, kiln-fired glasses, alternatively bright or shadowed, inspire and soothe."
Willet windows can be found in almost 10,000 churches located in all 50 of the United States, as well as in fourteen foreign countries.
THE CENTRAL FIGURE OF THE WINDOW is Christ, with his arm raised, knocking on the door of the human soul. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)
This rendering is based upon the famous painting by Holman Hunt, which hangs in Keble College Chapel in England. The original oil painting depicts a door with no doorknob, symbolizing the door of our soul which must be opened from the inside. Shrubbery surrounds the doorway, signifying the many distractions in our lives which block our entrance to Him. But still Jesus beckons ... he waits...
In the window, Christ is portrayed as coming to us in the night, offering light. He is arrayed in his robes as Prophet, Priest, and King, and wears the white robe representing the power of the Spirit upon him and the jeweled breastplate, which represents the sacerdotal investiture. A halo or nimbus surrounds His head, and on His brow is a crown of thorns. In His hand He carries a light, signifying outwardly the light of conscience which displays past sin, and inwardly the light of peace -- the hope of salvation.
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Our interests in worldly objects often provide a mysterious contrast to our spiritual selves. Various symbols and scenes which directly pertain to the life of Canon Rauscher surround the central figure of Our Lord.
BUTTERFLY. At the top of the window inscribed against the darkness of the night above the moon are Jesus' words: "I am the Light of the World" (John 8:12). Above these words is a butterfly. This ancient symbol of the resurrection emerges in all its beauty from the cocoon to new life, just as we shall inherit new life on the day of resurrection.
THE TWIN LIGHTS. At the bottom left corner of the window is a lighthouse, and from it emanates a shining beacon of light. This is a replica of the historic lighthouse which dominates the town of Highlands, New Jersey. Here is where the Canon was raised, and where as a boy and young man he lived with his parents in an apartment over his Uncle Emiel's tavern on Bay Avenue. Built in 1862, the light was at one point in its history visible for 22 miles at sea. With its revolutionary lenses, it served as a major guidepost for ships in that area. Each night as the light moved on its course from a tower 246 feet above sea level, the beam flashed through the windows of the family home. From the hill on which it stood was a panoramic view of the Shrewsbury River, Sandy Hook, the Atlantic Ocean, the New York skyline, and the coast of Long Island. This was home.
CHURCH OF SAINT ANDREW THE APOSTLE. Canon Rauscher's formative years as a Christian were spent at the mission of St. Andrews in Highlands, New Jersey. His Baptism and Confirmation took place at this church on Bay Avenue, and it was here that he first served as an Acolyte. From this small church, depicted in the bottom center of the window, the Canon became a Postulant under The Reverend Christopher H. Snyder.
THE PHILADELPHIA DIVINITY SCHOOL -- CHAPEL OF ST. ANDREW. In the bottom right corner of the window is a representation of The Philadelphia Divinity School's Chapel of St. Andrew. This Chapel and the surrounding buildings which comprised the seminary complex was located at 42nd and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Seminary was founded in 1857 by Alonzo Potter, third Bishop of Pennsylvania, and for many years the institution was a landmark of Episcopal educational facilities. St. Andrew's Chapel, located in the midst of the complex, was considered the most beautiful of all Episcopal seminary chapels. Designed by Gustav Ketterer (1870 - 1953) in the manner of late French and English Gothic architecture, the Chapel was a masterpiece of carved stalls, gilded polychrome beams, and Biblical scenes which adorned the entire length of the ceiling. It was in this Chapel that Canon Rauscher worshipped twice daily for three years while he completed his formal education. He has never forgotten the godly grandeur of this Chapel, which formed a lasting impression on him as a young man.
THE SEMINARY SEAL. In the center bottom area of the window is the Seal of The Philadelphia Divinity School. Surrounding the shield are three Greek words which translate: "Do The Work of An Evangelist." The three books above the cross in the shield depict the three "Synoptic Gospels" -- Matthew, Mark and Luke.
THE SEMINARY CROSS. A large cross is depicted in the middle right side of the window. This is a Byzantine Cross, usually constructed with a disk on each of the four outer areas, and is present in Byzantine art of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. A similar Byzantine Cross, attached to blue damask backing, was suspended over the high altar in The Philadelphia Divinity School Chapel, where it was a focal point to all worshipers. Upon graduation, a sterling silver reproduction of this cross was given to each graduate, engraved with the graduate's name and date of the occasion.
THE SCROLL. Beneath the Seminary Cross in the middle right side of the window is a scroll which contains the date: "November 2, 1957" (All Soul's Day). This is the date of Canon Rauscher's ordination to the Sacred Priesthood.
THREE FISHES. Beneath the Scroll is a circle of three fishes. This ancient symbol is a reminder that salvation comes from the Triune God, and was a secret sign used by the early persecuted Christians to identify themselves as believers in Jesus. The origin of this symbol is from the initial letters of the Greek words for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior" (ICHTHUS) which spells the Greek word meaning "fish."
ST. STEPHENS, FLORENCE, NEW JERSEY. Positioned just above the Seminary Chapel in the lower right side of the window is the image of St. Stephens, the first church where Canon Rauscher served. This modest church was built in 1860 as a temporary chapel at a cost of under $2,000. The Church still stands today, and holds about sixty people. Here in Florence the Canon lived and ministered from 1957 until 1960 to a faithful few.
BOOK AND QUILL. This symbol at the lower left side of the window represents the Canon's literary accomplishments. His publications, including The Spiritual Frontier (Doubleday and Company, 1975), The Case Against Suicide (St. Martin's Press, 1980) and Church In Frenzy (St. Martin's Press, 1981), along with other books, many articles, reviews and papers, were written in the rectory of Christ Church while Canon Rauscher was in residence. The manuscripts reflect his varied interests and contributions to a reading public.
CHRIST CHURCH, WOODBURY, NJ. On the left side of the window above the Book and Quill is a representation of the pulpit and tower of Christ Church. This parish was established in 1854; the church was completed in 1856, and consecrated in 1857. The pulpit is central to the many sermon presentations which have been delivered in Christ Church over the years. The tower and cross signifies the power of the Gospel to the community. In August 1960 Canon Rauscher became the eleventh rector of this parish, and for thirty-six years he ministered here until his retirement in 1996, when he completed a long and productive life in Christ Church.
RABBIT IN HAT WITH WAND. Above the Seminary Cross on the upper right-hand side of the window is a rabbit in a hat, and a wand. When the Canon was twelve years old, he found a hobby which he enjoyed -- Magic! As a young man he became proficient in performing magic tricks, and his interest in this benign form of entertainment has continued throughout his life. Over the years the Canon has brought happiness to both young and old with his performance of Magical Wonders. He is a frequent lecturer, and has written numerous books and articles about great stage magicians; he is widely recognized for his knowledge of the history of this subject. He has been a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians since 1949. He is also a member of the Society of American Magicians, and in 1991 was elected to the S.A.M. Magic Hall of Fame.
THE ZENER CARDS. In the upper right side of the window are reproductions of the Zener Cards -- five cards developed for laboratory testing to help prove the reality of ESP. Originally designed by Karl E. Zener in the 1930's, these symbols represent the Canon's life-long concern with not only the mind's extra-sensory abilities, but also his interest in the exploration of consciousness, and parapsychology, as well as in all areas of mystical theology and the paranormal. His work as a psychical researcher and interpreter for religion in exploring the unknown is widely recognized.
THE SQUARE AND COMPASS. This symbol of the Masonic fraternity, located in the upper right side of the window, presents God as the Grand Architect of the Universe. Like his father, grandfather, and various other members of his family, Canon Rauscher's long association with Masonic scholarship, and his many degrees in the fraternity (which include the 32nd Degree and membership in the Shrine) are an important part of his background and history. As a Shriner, his sponsorship of children for free surgery and medical help at the Shrine Hospital has been an integral part of his ministry.
THE HEAVENS AND THE MOON. "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers; The moon and the stars which thou has ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Psalm 8, Vss. 3 and 4). The images of the moon and stars at the center top of the window are reminders of the universe and all its glory. The solar system, space exploration, and the field of astronomy have been of special interest to Canon Rauscher for most of his life.
THE MOON. Below the butterfly at the top of the window is the moon, enhancing the light which shines from the figure of Christ. This image serves to remind us how necessary light is -- both physically and spiritually -- for life itself. Presently we know that the moon is lifeless. On it is neither water nor atmosphere, and its light is merely a reflection of the sun's rays. The very nature of this satellite emphasizes how unique -- and divine -- our home on the Planet Earth is. But most important, Christ comes to us here on earth to offer the true meaning of life. And it is the reflection of His light -- the True Light -- which is necessary for our own personal inner life.
LUNAR MATERIAL. A focal point of the window is the moon located in the center top area. Imbedded in this spot in the window is lunar material presented to Canon Rauscher by Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon. Canon Rauscher met Dr. Mitchell in the early 1970's, and has followed with interest the career of this remarkable man -- and friend. The lunar material presented by Dr. Mitchell to Christ Church Woodbury provides the church with a rare gift throughout the churches of Christendom. This gift symbolizes for meditative thought man's exploration of God's universe.
EDGAR D. MITCHELL
I am very pleased that the Lunar Material I gave to my dear friend Canon William V. Rauscher has a permanent home in the stained glass window of Christ Church honoring his life and ministry. Some material gathered by myself and my associate Alan Shepard is estimated to be more than four billion years old, among the oldest found on the moon.
The gift you now possess, I brought back from my 500,000 mile journey to the moon on January 31, 1971. I was on the lunar surface thirty-three hours and thirty minutes. My journey lasted nine days. I returned to earth a different person on February 9th. I knew when I walked on the moon that life in this universe was not just an accident based on random process and that the universe has meaning and direction. I encountered through mind that unseen dimension that has brought to life the intelligent design of the universe. I am the sixth man of twelve to walk on the surface of the moon.
My encounter with the cosmos occurred during the Apollo 14 flight and the successful landing of our lunar module "Antares" in the vicinity of Cone Crater, a thousand foot wide hole dug out by a meteor in an area near the Moon's equator and the Sea of Storms called the Fra Mauro formation. The lunar material came from that very place.
Please remember that once you have seen the earth suspended like a tiny jewel against the immense velvet sky, it is impossible to resume the old ways of thinking and behaving -- patterns and ways that have plagued mankind since the beginning of history ... the view from space has shown me as no other event in my life has how limited a view man has of his own life and that of the planet.
May this gift serve to help remind you not only of outer space but inner space. The teachings of Jesus affirm that higher consciousness is the ultimate goal for those on earth if this planet and all its inhabitants are to survive and live in peace.
/s/ Edgar Mitchell