This is the window in the north wall of St Mary’s Kidlington. It was installed in 1898 in memory of Dr Henry Parry, a well-loved local doctor, and is a copy of part of a window designed by Sir Joshua Reynolds for New College ante-chapel.
The New College window is a nativity scene in which you can spot Joshua Reynolds and the Window’s painter, Jervaise, disguised as shepherds! Below the nativity scene are seven panels showing the seven virtues.
Traditionally, the seven Christian virtues or heavenly virtues combine the four classical cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and courage (or fortitude) with the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity (or love). These were adopted by the Church Fathers as the seven virtues.
In our window the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and love are the main focus. Faith Holds the cross, Hope raises her hands heavenwards, and Charity / Love is shown in relationship.
As we have removed so many chairs from the nave this year I have found that the natural proportions of the stonework, pillars and windows somehow seem more obvious. Without 150 chairs to clutter our vision, our eyes more easily take in the beauty of the stone floor, the reach of the pillars, and the message of the windows.
In particular, I have been drawn to this window. I remember preaching on it on Mothering Sunday last year when we live-streamed our first Sunday service from St Mary’s with just Martin, David Hewett, Andy and myself there. After that we had to lock the church and did not return for some weeks. I have returned to the window’s message in conversations, funeral addresses, and in Pause for Prayer all through this year.
It seems to me that through all this dark and challenging time FAITH in God’s sure presence has been our rock, HOPE has been our light for the end of this tunnel which will surely come, and LOVE for our neighbour has been our daily task, whether that has involved staying inside and keeping away from others or being involved in work / activities that supports the running of our community.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13. 13