Heathdale flower 10th December 2021

The Immanuel Principle

Beautiful stained glass windows, magnificent architecture, stories intricately told on walls... a statement that God wants to be in the midst of His people. Read on to learn about the Immanuel Principle.

Heathdale flower

Have you ever walked into a room or a public space and been taken by the sheer beauty of this space? It may be the architecture, some of the little decorating touches, the tones or special features like a stained glass windows that make you think, "this place is stunning!"

Several years ago, I had one such moment. Sue and I had the good fortune of being in Paris and we walked into Sainte-Chapelle (The Holy Chapel).

Sainte-Chapelle is a royal medieval Gothic chapel located in the heart of Paris and is famous for its internal architecture and stained glass windows. It was constructed around 1239 and is considered among the highest achievements of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture. When you stand in the heart of this chapel, the richness of the colours is overwhelmingly beautiful.

The three windows of the eastern section illustrate the New Testament, featuring scenes of The Passion, the Infancy of Christ and the Life of the Apostle John. The windows above the nave are dominated by Old Testament narrative. The northern wall contains scenes from the Book of Genesis and the next ten windows adjacent to the nave are scenes from Exodus, Joseph, Numbers/Leviticus, Joshua/Deuteronomy, Judges, (moving to the south wall) Jeremiah/Tobias, Judith/Job, Esther, David and the Book of Kings.

If you have had the good fortune to visit Sainte-Chappelle, you would know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, treat yourself by looking it up via Google Images!

As I stood in this magnificent building, my mind was totally captivated by the beauty before me. I came to understand and appreciate that the stained-glass windows were in fact telling the story of God at work in the world. They reminded me that He has been intimately involved in humanity from day one, through to the birth of His Son, His redeeming death on the cross and now through the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in us. Standing there in the midst of these scenes, I found myself being drawn into an attitude of worship and giving thanks to God for His desire to be with us.

Recently, I have been reading through the Old Testament book of Exodus and I came across the chapters that describe the establishment of the first Tabernacle. As I read the instructions God gave to Moses, it occurred to me that the first Tabernacle must have been beautiful, something to behold. Look at how The Message captures this:

'GOD spoke to Moses: “Let the people construct a Sanctuary for Me so that I can live among them. You are to construct it following the plans I've given you, the design for The Dwelling and the design for all its furnishings.' (Exodus 25:10.)

The first Tabernacle was something far more than a visually stimulating piece of artwork; it was a statement that God wants to be in the midst of His people. The instructions recorded in Exodus 25 and beyond, come after Moses spends 40 days and 40 nights on Mt Sinai. It could be asked why Moses needed to spend so long on the mountain. The verses contained in Chapter 25 onwards give us perspective. On the mountain, Moses received from God detailed instructions for what has been described as ‘The Church in the Wilderness’ - the Tabernacle - which would be Israel’s portable place of worship.

The Tabernacle was to be a sanctuary; a place where God can dwell so as to be amongst His people. How eager He seems to be in company with them at all times. One biblical scholar has called this ‘The Immanuel Principle’ God’s desire to be with and amongst His creation, you and me! This principle serves to remind us of how much God loves us and because of this, we are truly blessed.

Understanding and appreciating the Immanuel Principle is one of the reasons why I love to celebrate the Christmas Season. During this season, we have the opportunity to celebrate and remember that Jesus, our Saviour, redeemer was born! So let the Immanuel Principle – that God desires to be with you and me - soak into our heart, mind and soul. May we begin to grasp the significance that our Lord continues to desire to be amongst us and may we worship Him accordingly.

As our school year concludes, I would like to say to each and every one of you, on behalf of the staff, thank you for all the support and encouragement you have provided for us during this most challenging year. As you have supported and encouraged the staff, I’m reminded we are in fact on the same team. It’s not a case of ‘us and them’, but rather we are a community under God’s care and love.

I wish you and your family a very blessed Christmas and I look forward to reconnecting in 2022.


Ross Grace
Executive Principal