"...and [God] raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:6)
- Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra
Where is Christ? Here and everywhere! Above all, Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, is seated within the Holy of Holies, at the right hand of the heavenly Father. So don’t think that when we go to church, we are simply entering and exiting an ordinary building. Instead, we go up to, and make our entrance into, the Holy of Holies, into the heavens themselves. As we open the curtain of the Royal Doors, and Christ is present in the Holy Chalice, so to do we sinners open the doors of heaven and enter! Although we are sinners, when we enter into the Liturgy, we go up to the heavenly Jerusalem. It is then that you will realize what greatness our souls can experience! We sit down at the right hand of the Father, receiving honor from the honor of Christ, and taking the most honorable flesh of our Lord and God.
When we enter church, then, we are traversing the distance from earth to heaven. We pass beyond the stars, we leave the angels below us, and we rise up to the heights of the Holy Trinity. This is the mystery of our Church... The same mystery is enacted here, outside the space of the sanctuary. In front of us we see various images, above us are the lamps, each hanging next to the other. But that’s wrong. These too are a part of the mystery. We are not here. We are up there, together with the assemblies of the Saints, together with the ranks of the angels, with the six-winged Seraphim - whose swift movements teach us to hasten day and night to Christ - together with the cherubim of many eyes, so that our own eyes can become accustomed to seeing Christ. This is a sacrament. This is what a “Mystery” of the Church means...
We thank you, Lord our God, because you have brought down the ranks of angels and raised us up to heaven. We are found worthy to stand before the heavenly father. . . “Woe is me, for I am lost!” (Isa 6:5). Woe is me, said Isaiah the prophet, for God Himself has descended upon me, and I am afraid I will die. And this is what we should also say when we come into church. We should be afraid, but we should also rejoice. We should tremble, but our hearts should also leap for joy, because we are embracing God, and God is embracing us.
So we have come to church, to the Liturgy! Let nothing disturb the tranquility of your soul. God is present. Wherever we look, God is before us! If we don’t see Him, this doesn’t mean He isn’t there, but only that our eyes are not used to seeing him. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, we proclaim: “We have seen the true light”. Our hearts have seen it. We have felt it deep within our life.
- From: “Our Church Attendance: Reflections on the Divine Liturgy of St. James” in The Church at Prayer
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