History 101.2 – The Epiphany
The below article was written by Dr. Eugene Murphey and was published in The Tower newsletter of January 2005.
Ready or not, here we are again with another serving of history and hopefully interesting facts about First Presbyterian Church. In our first session, we reviewed the history of the planning and installation of the stained glass windows in the church nave. Then we covered the story of the prophecy, annunciation, and birth of Christ presented by the first three windows in the east wall.
Before we proceed with our tour, let me explain that all of the windows in the nave were subscribed by members of the congregation and dedicated as memorials or in honor of family members or friends. The Session wisely chose to avoid dedication labels on the windows but rather recorded the dedications in a book located in a display case on the right side of McFadden reception hall at the rear of the sanctuary.
The Session also chose to subscribe to a single window outside the nave. It is found in the church entrance foyer or narthex. This window was dedicated by the Session ‘to the memory of the unnamed faithful of the church.’ The window illustrates the Acts of mercy as related in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, Please take a moment to observe this small jewel of stained glass as you enter or leave the church.
One other deviation before we re-enter the sanctuary. If you have wondered about the three stained glass panels in the wall of the stairwell going to the balcony, these originally occupied the south wall of the chancel area and were retired to their present location when the larger chancel panels were installed.
Now back in the sanctuary, we continue along the east wall to the fouth window which displays The Epiphany, the wise men followed the star and coming to adore the Christ child with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This also signals the showing of Christ to the Gentiles and follows the statement on John 1:45 – ‘Him of whom the prophets did write.’ A symbol of three crowns is at the bottom of the panel. This completes the wonderful Christmas story just in time for our own celebration of the birth of Christ.
In the near future, we will look at the remaining side windows and at the three beautiful panels in the back of the chancel area. Meanwhile, take a little time to study the windows and appreciate the historical events they represent.
-Eugene M. Murphey, M.D.