Created in 2021, the sculpture is composed of twenty-seven, 10-inch blown glass pieces installed on an armature made of high-grade stainless steel. The use of glass in this sculpture draws upon the materials and emotion found in the sanctuary’s stained glass window which overlooks the Memorial Garden. Rich in symbolism, this sculpture invites multiple interpretations as the visitor reflects upon life, death, and the journey in between. The cost of the sculpture was underwritten by designated memorial gifts to the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. The art consulting, concept and installation was provided by Paul Dorrell of Leopold Gallery, the glass artistry was provided by Tyler Kimball at Monarch Glass Studio, the steel armature fabrication was provided by Gieske Custom Metal Fabricators, and interpretive design was provided by Bryan and Cindy LaGree.
Reflecting on the Sculpture
The Holy Trinity
The sculpture’s form is established by three branches representing the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Note how the branches are independent, yet they flow in unison. The glass pieces are colored blue, purple and red. Traditionally, the calming color blue is associated with God who made the heavens and formed the waters. The color purple is associated with the royalty and power of Christ the King. The color red is associated with the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire that announced the Holy Spirit’s permanent residence on earth.
Scripture and Resource
- “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” 1:1 NIV
- “But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end”. Luke 1:30-33 NIV
- “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:12-16 NIV
- God. What does God’s role as the author of creation say to you about God’s power and ability to understand our grief and listen to our cries for help?
- How did Jesus’ resurrection show that he is king even over death? What emotions do you think your loved one experienced upon being welcomed to heaven by King Jesus?
- Holy Spirit. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit actively comforts us, guides us, prays for us, helps us, and intercedes for us. In what ways do you sense that the Holy Spirit is actively helping you in your grief? Name some of the people who have come alongside of you to provide comfort and care? Have you read anything or heard any music which seemed especially comforting or reassuring? Are there photographs, videos or memorabilia which have touched your heart as you grieve your loss?
Since the glass pieces were crafted by hand, each piece has striping which is different from any of the others. Yet, all of the unique pieces come together to form the beautiful sculpture. God has given each of us a unique collection of skills, traits and gifts. We are invited to use them in ways that builds God’s Kingdom as we collaborate with others.
Scripture and Resource
- “In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us.” Romans 12:5-6 CEB
- “There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit, and there are different ministries and the same Lord, and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone….. All these things are produced by the one and same Spirit who gives what he wants to each person. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 11 CEB
- “Many Gifts, One Spirit,” The United Methodist Hymnal, no. 114.
“Many gifts, one Spirit, one love known in many ways.
In our difference is blessing,
From diversity, we praise one Giver, one Lord, one Spirit, one Word
known in many ways, hallowing our days.
For the Giver, for the gifts, praise, praise, praise!”
- What were some of your loved one’s unique traits, hobbies, quirks, and skills? How did your loved one’s uniqueness bless you and others?
- In what ways do you hope that your own unique traits and skills are fondly remembered by your loved ones?
God loves us even when we think we are unlovable.
Amidst the different glass pieces, there is one piece that is so distinctly different and unique from any of the other pieces that it could be perceived as a glaring mistake. Yet, it was purposely included in the sculpture design as a way of reassuring us that there is a place in God’s family for those who believe they are unlovable. Our human nature breeds the incorrect belief that some mistakes, failures, shortcomings, differences, conditions, or sins are so big and bad that a perfect God cannot possibly forgive or accept them. God’s word through Scripture promises otherwise. God loves you.
Scripture and Resource
- “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 NIV
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 NIV
- “I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.” Romans 8:38-39 CEB
- How do you feel when you realize that there is no sin, mistake or shortcoming which is so big that it cannot be forgiven by God?
- What is your reaction to the thought that God has a place and a use for each of us no matter how unique or different we or our circumstances might seem?
- Even in the midst of the pain of your loss, can you find comfort in the promise of Jesus that your loved one has been forgiven and set free?
God bends and redeems our pain.
The armature forming the branches of the sculpture is made of rigid and strong stainless steel. In its original form, the steel was straight and unbending. It was difficult to see how it could ever be used to create a flowing sculpture. However, when placed in the hands of a skilled metal fabricator each branch was bent into a shape that could be used by the artist to express the sculpture’s desired design.
Scripture and Resource
- “We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 CEB
- In Pastor Adam Hamilton’s book Why?, he addresses the human dilemma of pain and suffering. “As we have seen, God walks with us through times of suffering. God also uses us to care for one another in the midst of suffering and in the wake of evil. But there’s something more that God does: God forces evil and suffering to serve God. God brings good from evil. God takes our sorrow, suffering, and sin and bends it, redeems it, and sanctifies us through it.” Adam Hamilton, Why? Making Sense of God’s Will, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011, 87-88.
- Hymn: “This Is My Father’s World,” The United Methodist Hymnal, no. 144.
“This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!”
- Sometimes our sense of loss and dismay seems so deep, painful and permanent that we are unable to see any way that our circumstance can be used by God. Describe some of the emotions you have experienced regarding your loss.
- Note that the strong steel could be bent into its usable form only after it was placed in the hands of the skilled metal fabricator. What does that suggest that you should do with the circumstances and pain surrounding your loss?
- Can you think of other times in your life or in the life of others when a loss became the root of something which grew to be usable and good?
God’s Kingdom cannot be shaken.
On most days, the sculpture is stationary and unmoving. Yet, on windy days the three branches flex and move slightly. They flex, but they do not break because they are secured in a strong foundation. Sometimes our faith mimics those branches. When things are going well, we confidently stand strong in our trust. Then death, disaster, or loss comes along and shakes us to our core. We suddenly ask questions we had never thought about and our firmly held beliefs are challenged in uncomfortable ways. Even so, we can remain hopeful knowing that God is our rock and fortress in times of trouble.
Scripture and Resource
- “We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV
- “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” Hebrews 12:28 NIV
- “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46:1-3 NIV
- Hymn: “It Is Well With My Soul”, The United Methodist Hymnal, (Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1989), no. 377.
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”
- In what ways do you feel hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted or struck down?
- How does remembering the everlasting strength and glory of God’s Kingdom strengthen you even as you realize the fragility of our earthly life?
- If your ground is shaking or sorrows are overwhelming you, what are some of the ways in which you might be able to hold onto the anchor of God’s promises?
God came down to earth and we are promised resurrection.
The flow of the sculpture appears to rise towards the heavens and display how the darkness of death and loss is transformed into bright, eternal life. Looking at it another way, the sculpture appears to bring the glory of heaven down to earth.
Scripture and Resource
- “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed, he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead? The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:35-44 NIV
- “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” Revelation 21:1-5 NIV
- Hymn: “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” The United Methodist Hymnal, no. 302.
“Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!”
- In what way are you comforted by the thought that your loved one now has a resurrected body and has risen to reside in heaven?
- Looking back on the life of your loved one, think about the instances or events when you believe God’s hand was at work. Consider writing about these in a journal.
- Pastor Adam often quotes Frederick Buechner who once said, “Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing.” How can that statement help transform your pain and fear into hope?
The light of Christ.
The yellow striping on each glass represents the light of Christ. It also reminds us that each of us, in our own way and regardless of our position, can reflect Christ’s light to others.
Scripture and Resource
- “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. John 1:1-5 CEB
- “Because of our God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us, to give light to those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide us on the path of peace.” Luke 1:78-79 CEB
- “God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 CEB
- “You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:1-16 CEB
- How can you let the light of Christ illuminate the darkness of grief to bring you comfort and peace?
- The Bible says that Christ’s light is in us even in our darkest days. How can we share that light with others?
God looks at our heart.
Initially, the colors of the sculpture are what catch the observer’s eye. Even so, the strength of the sculpture comes from the steel armature residing on the inside of the glass pieces. The armature is hardly seen, but without it, all of the glass would fall to the ground in a broken heap. Often, our human tendency is to measure a person’s worth by the outward appearance of success and accomplishments. It is easy to lapse into thinking that we can earn or work our way into God’s favor if God has seen us do enough good things. Yet, Scripture says that God looks to our heart and measures us by what is on the inside regardless of what is seen on the outside.
Scripture and Resource
- “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV
- “The Pharisees, who were money-lovers, heard all this and sneered at Jesus. He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves before other people, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued by people is deeply offensive to God.’” Luke 16:14-15 CEB
- What do you think God sees when looking at your heart?
- In what ways is God calling you to move beyond outward appearances and to look at the heart?
We are growing toward completion.
The sculpture is designed with translucent glass so that light passes through. Its appearance changes as the sun’s light changes and turns morning into night. And, the sculpture looks different in bright sunlight than it does on an overcast or snowy day. Likewise, our faith grows and our understanding changes as a result of our life experiences. In fact, we are called by Scripture to grow and change in our love for Christ and one another.
Scripture and Resource
- “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.” Ephesians 1:17-19 NRSV
- “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine…But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way…” Ephesians 4:14-15 NRSV
- In what ways have your thoughts, opinions and beliefs changed as a result of your life experiences?
- How would you try to explain the difference between authentic growth and being blown about by “every wind of doctrine?”
Tree of Life.
In its garden setting and placed adjacent to the Memorial Garden’s water feature, the sculpture brings to mind Revelation 22 which speaks of the tree of life growing alongside the river of life. In that picture of God’s Kingdom, the promised final victory over evil and death is fulfilled. God’s people live eternally in complete harmony and free of death, disease, pain and suffering.
Scripture and Resource
- “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.” Revelation 22:1-3. NIV
- Hymn: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” The United Methodist Hymnal, no. 140.
“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Great is thy faithfulness…..”
- We are promised that the curse of death, disease, pain and suffering have been banished from God’s Kingdom. What feelings arise in you when you picture your loved one right now worshiping in the presence of Jesus?
- How do you respond to God’s promise in the book of Revelation to one day redeem, restore, and transform the world and its people to Paradise? How does that vision give you strength and hope in the midst of difficulties and loss?
Other observations and thoughts?
As you reflect on the sculpture, list any other interpretations, scriptures, hymns, or thoughts which come to mind.
A Closing Prayer
“I pray that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21 NRSV