I currently have this photo of a stained glass window on the "desktop" at home and on our main computer at work. I love it, especially from a little ways back, and imagining the sun shining through it (which it probably is on the photo).
It reminds me of the recent thought I read from N.T. Wright in his book, Simply Christian in which he sees beauty as being an echo of the voice of God to the world, and how this beauty is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus in bringing in the kingdom of God which ushers in the new creation. Of course we remember the beauty with which the Bible Story begins and with which it ends.
Tom Wright believes Christians should point to beauty (along with justice, spirituality and relationships) as being important for people to come to hear the voice of God in Christ, and that this is of great importance in a world that might see life as merely utilitarian. It's a beauty that is wonderful in itself, yet points beyond itself to the Beauty that we are called to behold, contemplate and even take more and more of its image on ourselves (some extra thoughts added here, I believe). And even enter into.
As I have been looking at the stained glass window for a number of days, it has helped me to want to meditate on, ponder and behold (and be beholden by) the beauty of the Lord. This is what icons are meant to do. They were made to be windows or pointers to draw attention beyond themselves, in this case to the beauty of the Lord and of his revelation to us in Christ.
Beauty is all over God's creation, even as it groans under the curse, awaiting the glorious resurrection of God's children. I love Spring when all is fresh and beauty can be seen nearly everywhere not obscured by concrete or the like. This beauty can lift us and help us to worship and want to live in the Beauty from whom all beauty comes.
What about you? Do you see validity in appreciating stained glass windows and icons in appreciating God's beauty and the glory of his revelation to us in Christ?