We are framing the ceilings now in the Nave of our new church, Glory to God! We had to call the building inspector to come out and help us determine what type of framing he would allow to support the ceiling and how to suspend it from the roof purlins. After all, we certainly don’t want it dropping down on our heads! It has to be done in such a way that it is fit to withstand the weight of the drywall over the course of time! Basil and I are also securing the ceiling with nails and screws and using a laser level to ensure that it is perpendicular. Well, there are rules and guidelines for the inspector to interrupt what is best for us and what will ensure that the roof will not to collapse on us.
Here in the church, there are also rules and guidelines to help us be actively worshipping God. There is a tradition as to how the Nave will be adorned and which direction the altar will face. We are told where the Cathedra, or bishop’s seat, will be placed. We are now currently standing in our temporary rental space in the nave or hull of the ship of salvation, facing the altar where the holy table resides. The Holy Table (Russian Prestol), which represents the Throne of God, where the Lord Himself is invisibly present there. It also represents the Tomb of Christ, since His Body (the Holy Gifts) is placed there.
We have a wall or iconostasis that separates the nave, where the people worship, from the altar table where the Holy Sacrifice is revisited. This table is the “table of God’s Kingdom” (Lk 13.29). This division serves to remind us that God's reign is not complete and that we often find ourselves 'separated' from God, through sin, our choice. Everything to do about Orthodoxy is selfishly pointing us to heaven. Our Father wants us all to spend eternity with Him. Through our humility, like we heard practiced by the centurion in the Gospel reading this morning, we can prepare a place for Christ under our roof! (Luke 8:8) Saint Ambrose tells us: “He provides us here with a form of humility for imitation, whereby He taught the need to defer to the small and the great alike.” [Ib., Bk. V, § 84.]
Saint Nicholas Cavasilas reminds all of us about a place worthy where God dwells. He says, "When Christ dwells in us what else is needed or what benefit escapes us? When we dwell in Christ, what else would we desire? He dwells in us, and He is our dwelling place. How blessed are we by reason of this dwelling place, how blessed are we that we have become a dwelling place for such as one as He? What good thing is lacking for those who are in such a state? What have they to do with wickedness who have entered into such brightness? What evil can withstand so great an abundance of good? What evil thing can continue to be present or enter from without when Christ is so evidently with us and completely penetrates and surround us?" (The Life in Christ, IV. 2)
This week take some time and reflect on the condition of your roof. If wickedness is leaking in, it needs some repairs! If pride is holding up your ceiling, it is not correctly supported and will fail. If you love the world more than God, it is time to reflect upon just how short your time here really is. The Holy Scripture will support your roof. The lives of the saints will plumb your walls and ceilings. And with humility, draw nigh and heal your heart! With every heart beat, you are one beat closer to your human death, are you ready? Are you worthy? Let the Light of Christ prepare a dwelling place for you that leads to salvation! “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).