Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World


Written by: on September 4, 2014


From Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary:

1 an opening especially in the wall of a building for admission of light and air that is usually closed by casements or sashes containing transparent material (as glass) and capable of being opened and shut.

2 a means of entrance or access; a means of obtaining information.

Adding a window to a wall or to a room is an invitation for change. What once was predictable and static suddenly brings differences of light and shadows, sounds and smells. New perspectives from beyond the room are introduced into the imagination of those inside the room. For each person, depending on the angle from which they sit, their perspective and subsequent imagination can be different. Though starting from the same room, looking through the same window, the impressions of each person can be different. Windows allow us to move beyond our physical location while never leaving the room. Windows can also bring refreshing change from the outside into our current situation. William Dyrness in his book, Visual Faith (Engaging Culture): Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue, brings needed depth and theological sophistication to the capacity of images to provide windows for the development of our faith in Jesus Christ.

 “Venerating the image was not a veneration of the object but the person who was visible in and through the image. The image did not simply represent the one portrayed but actually became transparent; that is, one could see through the image to the sacred presence it represented.” (Loc. 615-617)

The difference between icon and idol, iconodule and iconoclast, veneration and worship, can at times be a fine line that is not easily distinguished because often the differences reside within the hard to discern places of the emotional and devotional heart of the individual. A number of years ago, I had the occasion of watching the Holy Week parades in Seville, Spain. What I saw during those days has always stayed with me. The procession of people moving through the streets, carrying statues, crosses and other artifacts were one thing; but it was the throngs of people, pressing close from the sides and leaning over their balconies that remains with me. It seemed clear to me, that the majority of those on the streets that day were idol worshippers. They looked to the artistic representation as possessing power that it could not possess. Despite their shouting and crying to these adorned shapes of wood and stone, the idols remained unchanged, unemotional and unmoved.

The Old Testament book of Isaiah brings life to what I witnessed in those days, when it says “…he makes an idol and bows down to it. Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill…From the rest makes an idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and sys, ‘Save me, you are my god.’ ” (Isaiah 44:15-17)  Despite that experience and my own limited artistic capacity, the Lord has also taught me that there is something very significant and powerful about looking, not at but through, objects and images, art and nature to see His character and beauty revealed. They become windows through which our present reality is influenced by God’s divine presence.

 “Apparently, there is nothing God does that does not send off sparks of beauty that call attention to his redeeming and loving presence. The world, then, even apart from its interpretation in Scripture, declares the glory of God; it is an embodied witness to this redemption and love.” (Loc. 1454-1456)

Stained glass from "La Cathedrale Notre Dame" in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Stained glass from “La Cathedrale Notre Dame” in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

The biggest challenge, for me, is to continually recognize that God’s desire to communicate with me is vast and varied. Often the limitation for learning comes through my own preconceptions which draws a shade or even boards up the window through which He is trying to teach me. Related to this challenge, is my role as a communicator of God’s truth. It is naïve, even egotistical, to think that the words I share each week, whether in large group gatherings or in smaller settings, is enough to challenge or shape the thinking of others. Therefore, often when speaking, I will have a picture (or series of pictures) displayed behind me, or an object in my hand through which people can engage what they’re hearing. The image or object becomes a window. In much the same way a great orator uses the telling of a story to illustrate a main point, these objects and images too are like windows enhancing and revealing a point of truth, directing people’s attention toward God. Refreshingly, the feedback from this is that people are being taught through the images; they find their minds are stimulated in a different way than just listening or taking notes (I can get tired of listening to me, I’m sure they do too 🙂 ).

My own relationship with the Lord has developed to a place where I now look with anticipation for the new windows that are being installed in the otherwise predictable and static places of my life. Through those windows God shines light and reveals beauty that I would otherwise never see.  Additionally, I am also learning to value the insights of others, who though sitting in the same room, gazing out the same window, are able to enhance our shared experience and understanding of our God through the uniqueness of their perspective.


(It should also be noted that this topic so capture my attention that I wrote my Master’s Thesis on it. If you have trouble sleeping you might find this helpful.)

About the Author

Deve Persad

17 responses to “\ˈwin-(ˌ)dō\”

  1. Liz Linssen says:

    Great post Deve, full of great analogy, as always. I love your point about the importance of adding a visual dimension to your preaching. We all learn differently, don’t we, with some are more visual learners than others, for example. As you say, visual art has the capacity to add to our learning. Excellently-written blog!

    • Deve Persad says:

      Thanks Liz. It’s definitely been a challenge to recognize that every audience is composed of people who all learn differently. Often the easiest thing to do is to communicate in the way that I would learn. However, in those times where the listeners, writers, viewers and doers are all engaged, then the blessings for a church body can be so much greater. I certainly don’t profess to do it well, but I try to learn from those who do.

  2. Deve, it is good to be reading your posts again. They always touch me, challenge me, and make me think. This week’s post was no exception.

    The Orthodox Christians call the icons that adorn their churches, “windows into heaven.” When I was young, I used to see these icons being idols, but I have changed my views after having studied this subject.

    In 1993 I had an opportunity to travel to Eastern Europe and found myself one day in an Orthodox Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine. There was an old man with a great white beard who was slowly walking from the back of the cathedral up to an icon of Christ in the front. It took him a good fifteen minutes to eventually make it to the icon, since he walked so slowly. The entire time as I observed this event, the old man had tears streaming down his face. When he got to the icon, he kissed the feet of Jesus. He then made his way slowly to the back of the church, still weeping. This event marked my life forever. Was he an idol worshipper or a true worshipper of Christ? I think the answer is clear. I know that his “window into heaven” was pointing to the true Jesus. I would hope that some day I would be as devout and humble as this dear man. I hope to see him again some day.

    • Deve Persad says:

      Great to hear from you Professor. I’ve been praying for you and your family during this time of loss.
      I appreciate your story and the obvious impression it left with you. It definitely highlights the importance of not making blanket statements in regard to “icon vs. idol”.
      I may borrow that illustration at some point, if you permit?

  3. Telile Fikru Badecha says:

    Deve, Great post! I too appreciate you include visuals in your speakings. I agree that stories, images, and objects can help illustrate the main point. But, we need to be careful people do not leave the service remembering the stories or objects we used to illustrate the text more than the word of God. Thank you.

    • Deve Persad says:

      Telile, thanks for your comment. You give wise caution to the use of images. There are definitely times where people are more easily attached (or distracted) by the image, picture or special effect and forget it’s purpose. One of the main criteria that I try to employ is to make use of objects that people will come across in their everyday lives, so that when they see these objects again, they will be reminded (hopefully) of it’s biblical significance. There’s a definite delicate balance that must be heeded and I appreciate the counsel.

  4. Miriam Mendez says:

    Deve, thank you for your post. I appreciate your analogy of the window. Your first sentence caught my attention…. “adding a window to a wall or to a room is an invitation for change.” It got me thinking about the windows that God adds to our souls and the windows that we install ourselves.

    Yes, I agree with you, as one who also communicates the Word each week I am challenged by the windows I presenting to the people. My hope and desire is that through these new windows they can draw closer to the Great Artist of all.

    • Deve Persad says:

      Miriam, you raise a good point “windows of God” vs. “windows we install ourselves”. There are definitely times that we can confuse the two and probably not even realize it.
      I’m going to think that through some more. Thanks for the challenge.

  5. Julie Dodge says:

    Yours was one of the first posts I read, Deve (though finding time to write a response took a bit). I say this because I always look forward to reading your work. you approach each post in both an academic and a human manner. You frequently open new windows through story, picture and thought. In this post, ire aired this comment most: “The biggest challenge, for me, is to continually recognize that God’s desire to communicate with me is vast and varied.” Indeed. He pursues us. He uses whatever means he finds necessary, if we might only listen. I am trying to open up more windows through which to hear His voice. To pause, consider, contemplate. I think God can use so many ways to share himself. Thanks for your humility and example.

    • Deve Persad says:

      Thanks for the kind words Julie. Without a doubt, Our God continues to demonstrate how much he wants to teach us and help us, if only we will be still enough or attentive enough or humble enough to let him. For me, one area where I’m discovering more about the beauty of God, is through people in “difficult” or “unseemly” circumstances. There is a profound beauty of God’s activity to be discovered.
      What about you, where are some new places that you’re discovering God?

  6. Richard Volzke says:

    Like you, when I teach or preach I use images that my audience can identify with to make my points clear. As a kid going to church, I remember listening to the preacher and not understanding what he was saying – I had no frame of reference and didn’t understand the terminology. Recently, there was a pastor at church camp who used the term Wesleyan Arminian…most people don’t even understand what this means or why it is important. Art can be a useful medium to help people grasp the vision of Biblical truths that are being preached….a picture is worth a thousand words.

    • rhbaker275 says:

      We have an ecclesiastical language … we need to learn the language of those we lead and those we join God in seeking and reaching. Sometimes I must say, “What a pity.” However, praise the Lord, God has chosen us as God’s ambassadors!

    • Deve Persad says:

      There is always a challenge in communication, particularly preaching, to speak in ways that reveal meaning without losing people in terminology. I think it was Charles Spurgeon who said to “preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other”. His advice is a challenge to spend time taking ancient words, with Spirit life and bring them into today’s relevance. Keep at it Richard!

  7. rhbaker275 says:

    Your post is understanding; your use of the window metaphor is a great example of how image expands our perspective, lifts our vision, and as Dyrness states ” lift[s] the soul toward the contemplation of God…” (kindle, 607).

    Thank you for sharing your master thesis. I don’t have time to read it in its entirety just now, however, as I glanced though your table of contents I was really intrigued by your “Scriptural Foundations” (5). In particular, I had been inquisitive about Dyrness’ comments of veneration (see index p. 35-37). I read your section (7-11). Wow! … you brought clarity and insight that gave scriptural perspective on Dryness’ historical use and misuse (idolatrous) off veneration.

    I must study this further as I do better in using visual imagery in worship. Just a few quotes from your thesis that were really helpful to me: 1. Clarifying veneration “Veneration occurs when the object is used to point beyond itself to the eternal truths and indefinable character of God. God is against idolatry, but God encourages and even initiates veneration” (8) 2. A simple and clear definition of veneration “Encountering God beyond the symbol” (10) 3. A uniquely illuminating concept, based on scripture, “God demonstrates the mystical elements of veneration, but diffuses the mystery” (10).

    Thanks, great post! Terrific resource!

    • Deve Persad says:

      Well, Ron, I’m a little speechless…not sure I’ve had anyone actually read that paper and give feedback…you are such an encouragement! It was quite an odyssey for me undertaking that research, but the Lord has been good to continue to build upon the discoveries made.

      Of course, considering the late hour of your post, perhaps you did take my advice to use it for bedtime reading 🙂

      • rhbaker275 says:

        Neat response – I always detect in you, Deve, a pastors heart which is expressed through a humble spirit. Thanks for the scriptural insight that you bring to our discussions (in this case in line with Dyrness – dialogue) week-to-week.

  8. Hey Deve, great bit of writing, weaving in our humanity as we attempt to understand the touch points of the spirit of God to us. Certainly deep calls unto deep and that “deep” is so different for each of us. I do so agree with your statement regarding idols vs. icons, that there is a “fine line that is not easily distinguished because often the differences reside within the hard to discern places of the emotional and devotional heart of the individual.” Reading the material and all of our cohorts post it seems to me that our place as educators, pastors, preachers, and teachers is to equip the body of Christ to help them distinguish within their own heart how to rightly appreciate the “windows” all around us that God desires us to look through and see him.
    When I traveled to China I saw first had these man-made idols. We had come to a temple to pray, well, more like do spiritual warfare, and there was and newly minted idol out side one of the “prayer rooms” having just been delivered. It was truly a comedic moment, as I stated, “look, a god in a box, can be delivered to your door step. Fine Print – ‘shipping and handling charges apply.'” We later learned that the man-made idols are only god like after they go through a ceremony where the idols eyes are opened. It is a ceremony bidding the spirits to come and dwell within the craftsmanship of the artist and dwell there receiving the homage of worshipers. As we stood before these “creatures” we could definitely perceive that they were indeed a window into the spiritual realm but not a window that looked onto any Godly destinations. We prayed that the Holy Spirit would “close the window.”
    Bless you Deve, look forward to seeing everyone in Cape Town.

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