DSC_0186 The Great Commission
pentecost

History 101.10

The below article was written by Dr. Eugene Murphey and was published in The Tower newsletter of November 2005.

When the United States entered World War II in December 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, I was just starring medical school at Ole Miss in Oxford. All the medical students, like others all over America, were immediately enlisted and commissioned into military service, either the Army or the Navy by our choice. We were permitted to complete our medical school training in an accelerated program and in a semi-inactive military status until graduation, and then we were commissioned again into active service for our country.

The word commision, according to Webster, implies “a certificate conferring military rank and authority, although I can assure you my authority as a green Army medical officer was very limited. Webster also defines the word as  authority to act for, in behalf of, or in place of another,” and this brings us by a somewhat devious route to “Christ’s Great Commission” given to His followers after His resurrection. This is also the subject of the next stained glass window panel in the west wall of the sanctuary John’s Gospel (John 20) tells us that late on the Sunday evening after the discovery of the empty tomb, Jesus’ followers gathered together behind locked doors because of their fear of Jewish authorities. Jesus appeared before them, and after identifying himself by His crucifixion wounds, said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so send I you.”‘Thus, they were commissioned to go into the world to preach the Gospel and baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They were given His authority and command to continue to do His work in the world. This event is shown in the window panel with Jesus surrounded by His faithful disciples as He gives them their commission. This message is symbolized a the bottom of the panel by a world surmounted by tie Cross and surrounded by a banner with, on one side n open Bible signifying “The  Word to be preached to the world, and on the other side a scalloped shell with falling water droplets signifying Christian baptism.

The adjoining window presents an immediately following event when the faithful were gathered to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost and were visited by the Holy Spirit who made His presence known by tongues of fire over each head.  This recalled Jesus’ words (Luke 24:49) ‘I Myself will send upon you what my Father has promised.’  The window shows the gathered disciples each with the flame of the Holy Spirit above his head.  The ascending dove of the Holy Spirit is seen at the bottom of the panel.   The Commission Window was given in memory of Mrs. Erin Payne Serrill by Mr. H. G. Serrill. The Pentecost Window was given in memory of Mrs. Louise May Baughman by her family, and in memory of Mr. Wilburn Wesley Hunt by Mr. and Mrs. Forest Linton Morgan.

-Eugene M. Murphey, M.D.