Art can not only reflect God’s glory but really bring it into focus, in a way that touches our emotions – Cory Ryan
Architecture as one of the art forms and a special aspects of the Visual Arts reminds us how our traditional church buildings are based on designs given by God himself. Beyond my Masters thesis, Visual Arts at University of Ibadan on the Nigerian Methodist Architecture – 1842-1993, the newly constructed Wesley Chapel, Lekki, Lagos, ready for commissioning on July 27th 2019 has open another chapter worthy of reflection. Wesley Chapel, Lekki, Lagos depicts the heavenly liturgy and heaven itself. Wesley Chapel, Lekki stained glass could be likened to the re-enactment of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper work in Nigeria.
In my recent trip to Nigeria, I worshipped with my friend and prayer partner Very Rev Dr Ayodeji Richards at his church, Wesley Chapel, Lekki, Lagos. As I stood in the chapel and looking at the chapel’s stained glass and the dome, I realised their messages: I was in heaven celebrating the sacred mysteries: sursum corda; celebrating the Lord’s Supper with Jesus and his twelve disciples.
The fundamental aspects of the layouts of the chapel, the basement and the main worship space still follow that plan and the stone version of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Wesley Chapel, Lekki, Lagos, known for its fresh expression of Methodism in Nigeria and African in general is very strategic to the spiritual revival of the economic capital of Nigeria, Lagos State. The focus of the Wesley Chapel Lekki established in April 3, 2011 by the few Methodist families who met in a House Fellowship for prayers and the study of the Word is to make a positive impact in the Lekki Peninsula. Since the very first meeting of the chapel, lives have been transformed and encouraged by the power of God’s Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Wesley Chapel is rooted in the Wesleyan Tradition of Scriptural Holiness and community service. Among the vision of Wesley Chapel ‘is to partner with God in building the Kingdom of God and impacting the world. We are committed to conscientious soul winning for Christ, spiritual development and social service.’
In Nigeria with the spread of new generation churches, there is a casting off of the church building biblical roots in favour of a ‘camp centre’ and ‘meeting hall’ approach to church design. In such a time, when the thinking that our churches should reflect ‘heavenly realities, teach the faith, and follow biblical plans’ are eroding away, Wesley Chapel, Lekki, Lagos is providing a rethink that church building is not simply about providing a space for the people to meet and conduct various liturgies. Wesley Chapel, Lekki is renewing our missional sense that church structure is not only to reflect heaven, it is to remind us of heaven and the Great Commission. As part of the spiritual change we need in Nigeria, Wesley Chapel, Lekki, as a newer church architecture is inviting the church in Nigeria to return ‘more and more to sacred and biblical principles in church design.’ Wesley Chapel, Lekki, stained glass is promoting more education ‘on the meaning of the church art as something beyond what is merely “pretty,” and coming to understand the rich symbolism or art and architecture as revealing the faith and expressing heavenly realities.
Wesley Chapel, Lekki stained glass is more than just pretty colours, pictures and symbols. It is true that ‘stained glass was used for centuries to teach the faith through picture and symbol. Wesley Chapel, Lekki stained glass and dome depicts biblical stories, saints, sacraments, and glimpses into heaven. Wesley Chapel, Lekki, teaches the faith through the exquisite art of its stained glass and dome based on the descriptions of heavenly meal found in the Scriptures and the 12 patriarchs symbolised by the dome.
When you walk into Wesley Chapel, Lekki, there is a feeling that Jesus is sharing the Communion with you and when you look up at the beautiful dome, it is a Biblical history reflection. The dome with 12 panels features the 12 disciples, and this point us to the Great Commission and the story of Scripture from the beginning to end. Wesley Chapel, Lekki stained glass points us to the importance and significance of the Lord’s Supper as the bread of Heaven and the Cup of Salvation. Jesus command us to “Do this in remembrance of me” as symbol of faith. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who believes in me shall never hunger or thirst. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world….unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” (John 6:51-56)
Wesley Chapel, Lekki stained glass points us to the centrality of the Cross and Christian faith as spiritual feeding. Christian faith is to our mind, what partaking of food is to our physical body. We know that before food can nourish us, it must be received, eaten and digested. Wesley Chapel, Lekki stained glass reminds us of the benefits of participating in the Lord’s Supper namely: Fellowship around the table, preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Wedding Feast, Communion with the Lord, and the wedding invitation.
Please pray along with the leadership of the Chapel for a fruitful mission as they prepare for the commissioning on July 27th 2019. Worthy is the Lamb!