OBU professor delivers fourth message in Stained Glass series
September 30, 2005
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord,” said Dr. Bobby Kelly, quoting Psalm 150 which was used as a reference point in the designing of the Worship window in Oklahoma Baptist University’s Raley Chapel.
“Praise and worship is the final word, and the direction all creation is moving,” Kelly said during OBU’s weekly Chapel service, as he presented the fourth message in the university’s Stained Glass series, which focuses on the messages related to Raley Chapel’s 12 stained-glass windows. Kelly is the Ruth Dickinson associate professor of religion at OBU.
Located on the east side of the Raley Chapel, the Worship window depicts a symbolic message, verse by verse, of Psalm 150. Kelly revealed that he discovered the power worship has to unite and integrate people, bringing together disjointed aspects of life.
“Worship is enhanced tremendously by the exercise of the eye; it involves all of the senses. I stand in awe of the beauty of these windows,” he said. “They point us to that which is true and good. They point us to God.”
The top of the window features an artist’s rendition of the spire of Raley Chapel, referencing “Praise God in his sanctuary,” in verse one. Next to the spire is a gold shovel with a green ribbon. This was submitted as a request from Helen Raley, the wife of Dr. John Raley, who served as OBU president from 1934-61 and was the key designer of the windows.
Kelly quoted Mrs. Raley who explained, “Without Dr. Raley knowing it, this little personal touch was included in the artist’s sketch and was the beginning of our thought that in each window there should be something relevant to the history of OBU. So I asked the artist to include the chapel spire and a golden shovel for Dr. Raley.”
The shovel symbolized Raley’s involvement in breaking ground on seven of the OBU campus buildings, as he used a golden shovel with green ribbon at each ceremony.
Kelly emphasized how the spire directs upward, focusing on God, and bears a clock which symbolizes God’s lordship over time and history.
“Raley Chapel is the only place OBU gathers as a community to worship,” he said. “This space reveals that God can make Himself known outside of scripture. We can find joy and truth in every area of study as demonstrated by the images that surround us. This is a sacred place. It tells our story.”
Below the image of the chapel, the window is filled with images of stars, planets, and the sun. These celestial elements represent the remainder of verse one, “praise Him in His mighty heavens,” which declares that God is responsible for all that exists.
“Praise Him for His mighty deeds, praise Him according to His excellent greatness” is represented on the window as it moves from heaven to earth, illustrating four miracles that Jesus performed. The window shows the turning of water to wine and rolling waves before the calming of the storm. A rising phoenix portrays the resurrection of Lazarus, and five loaves and two fishes represent the feeding of the 5,000.
The lower section of the window is filled with instruments such as the lyre, flutes and harp and a pair of ballet slippers, corresponding to verses three through five, emphasizing praise to the Lord with music and dance. The instruments build to a crescendo with organ pipes located at the very bottom of the window.
One symbol that Kelly was uncertain of was a depiction of the letters “CV” above an open Bible. He suggested that the artist could have attempted to identify the number “150” through Roman numerals and reference Psalm 150.
Dr. Brad Jett, OBU’s James E. Hurley associate professor of biology, will address the Science and Medicine window in Chapel on Oct. 5. Guests are invited to join the OBU community for Chapel at 10 a.m. each Wednesday during the academic year.