The three windows at the front of the chapel culminate our visual instruction in the ‘old, old story' by which Christians daily are renewed. These beautiful panels invite us to recall the works of the Trinity in creating and redeeming the world, taking us through the biblical story in brief recapitulation from Genesis to the Revelation to St. John.
Taken together, this marvelous program of windows adds to our sense of the way in which we, who have the privilege of praying in Robbins Chapel, participate in the worshipful adoration of the Lord of all ages, the mystery of his redemptive grace in Christ Jesus, and the witness of the work of the Holy Spirit down through the ages, transforming and renewing minds and hearts. It is thus that the measure of our devotion can be magnified in praise and thanksgiving, and it is in the spirit of gratitude made possible by the beautiful artistic record of God's faithfulness that we can make best sense of our ongoing life-education in the acquisition and practice of those virtues which increase our capacity for love and obedience to Christ. This brings us to the very heart of the matter at hand: Robbins Chapel is a place of prayer, placed right in the heart of a community of learning, one which does not divorce knowledge from wisdom or faith from understanding. In this context, we may perhaps appreciate a few words from a great lay Christian of the late fourth century, John Cassian. Speaking of the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian believer, he writes that the discipline of the body and spirit on one side, and unceasing prayer on the other, cannot help but have a mutually enriching effect, each on the other. The keystone in the arch of all the virtues is perfect prayer, and without this keystone the archway would become rickety and insecure. This statement by a Christian who died a millennium and a half ago captures well the aspiration of "Uncle Bill" and Mary Jo Robbins in offering the gift of this wonderful place of prayer to the students and faculty of Brooks Residential College and Baylor University.
LEFT: If we begin at the top of the window on the left, we see the first letter in the Greek alphabet, the alpha, reminding us that God the Father is the beginning and source of all things. Moving down the window, we see the Hebrew letter daleth, the first letter in the Hebrew term for "Word" (dabar), because God created the world through his Word. Further down we see the creation of the world, with chaotic sea giving way to the order of light and darkness, rivers and dry land, plants and animals, all of which God declares to be good. The next scene represents the Old Testament Law, showing Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from God on Mt. Sinai. The final panel at the bottom of this window recalls the Old Testament Prophets' promise of a final restoration of his creative purpose, illustrating Isaiah's vision of a peaceable kingdom from God, when the wolf and the lamb will live together in harmony, and a little child will lead them.
CENTER: If we shift our gaze to the bottom predella of the middle window, we see the Nativity scene in Bethlehem, with Mary, Joseph and the animals gathered around the manger holding the infant Jesus, the Word made f lesh. Moving up to the center of the windows, just as it is the center of the Bible, we witness the sign of our atonement, the Crucifixion of Jesus. The next panel up is the Resurrection, with the risen Christ emerging from his tomb, victorious over sin and death. At the top of the middle window is a classic symbol of the Trinity from the Middle Ages. It instructs the beginner in the faith about the unity and distinctions between the three persons in the Godhead. Starting at the top left, we are told that the Father (Pater) is (est) God (the word Deus at the center of the symbol), as is the Son (Filius) and the Holy Spirit (Spus Scus, an abbreviation for Spiritus Sanctus). At the same time the symbol teaches us that the Father is not (non est) the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father.
RIGHT: If we move our gaze to the top of the window on the right, we see the omega, which is the last letter in the Greek alphabet and a reminder that God is not only the beginning but also the end or final purpose of all things, and especially of human beings (Rev. 22:13). Just below the omega is a dove, a familiar symbol of the Holy Spirit. Moving down the window we see the disciples gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, with flames of fire coming to rest on their heads. The center panel on the right depicts the Apostle Paul preaching to the Gentiles on Mars Hill in Athens (cf. Acts 17:28). The final panel on the bottom portrays St. John on the island of Patmos, caught up in the vision of the risen Chr ist standing in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, concluding our recollection of biblical narrative on the triune God with the source of all Christian comfort: "Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again."