On Mondays through the summer, I will be running a series of devotionals based on the stained glass windows at Covenant-First Presbyterian. These devotionals originally ran in the Covenant Courier newsletter, and we are editing them for re-issue as a devotional later this summer. All the photos are by our member, nature photographer Jerry Fritsch. We invite you to come by the sanctuary and see the windows in person.
This window is surprising. The superscriptions from Ruth 2:13-14 help us identify the figure on the left: Ruth the Moabitess, sickle in hand, having just gleaned barley. Above her are Ruth’s words to Boaz: “Let me find favor, in thy sight, my lord.” Boaz’s words of reply compose the superscription on the right: “Come thou hither and eat of the bread.” However the figure on the right is not Boaz.
The crown and wings clearly identify this figure as an angel. In his hand is a lily. Artistically, the lily often symbolizes the threefold virtues of faith, hope, and love. However, there is an old artistic convention of depicting the angel Gabriel as holding a lily when he visits Mary. That seems to be the convention being visually referenced here.
Ruth receiving the kindness of Boaz and Gabriel announcing God’s choosing of Mary to bear Christ. How do these two scenes relate?
First, they are both scenes depicting God’s favor and kindness. Just as Ruth receives favor from Boaz, so Mary receives word of God’s favor toward her. Both women question that favor (Ruth 2:10, Luke 1:24). And both women humbly receive the favor granted them.
More importantly, however, both scenes point us to Christ. The book of Ruth concludes with the genealogy showing Ruth to be the great-grandmother of king David. This means that she is also an ancestor of Jesus. She is one of three women mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus.
Meanwhile, Mary’s scene is obviously about the coming of Christ. Interestingly, though, her scene is riddled with backwards references to David: Joseph is identified as a descendent of David (1:27), Gabriel says that Jesus will have the throne of David (1:32), and Mary’s song (1:46-55) is widely acknowledged as having deep roots in the song of Hannah in I Samuel 2:1-10 (remember that I and II Samuel are the epic story of the rise of King David)
As we gaze upon this window, let us consider anew how Christ is the full expression of God’s favor toward us. Let us pray that we might humbly receive that favor, and that, like Mary, we might joyfully sing of God’s favor to us in Christ.