Today the Church commemorates the consecration of the most glorious church of the Resurrection of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. Built by Saints Constantine and Helen in the 4th Century, this Church stands as a reminder to the world that God was resurrected from the dead. Although the building has seen changes and repairs over the centuries, you can still enter it today for the Divine Liturgy.
Generations of Christians and tourists have entered the gates of the great Church as a testimony to the faith and power of God. In current form since the 11th Century, the Church is part of a complex the world knows as “The Church of the Holy Sepulcher”. The complex includes the Church of the Resurrection, the Church of the Cross (known as Golgotha) and the Church of the Tomb. It is quite an experience to enter, and I recommend every Christian do so at least once.
When a church is consecrated, following the example of the Temple built by Solomon, it is forever dedicated to God. All churches stand as icons of God’s faith and power. As such, churches are anointed with Holy Chrism to remind the faithful that Jesus Christ now dwells in the Church.
Holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of as much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. (For every house is built by some one, but the builder of all things is God.)Hebrews 3.1-4
As Orthodox Christians, the church building is never just a place to gather. It is a place where we encounter the living God. Ever since Moses led His people out of Egypt, God has promised to be in His Temple. Even today, our churches should stand as invitations to the world to ‘come and see God’ and spend some time with Him.
Unfortunately, many of our churches have become ‘Sunday only’ gathering places. With few exceptions, we no longer consider the church to be the center of our lives. We now live as if we only need God on Sundays, or worse, only Christmas and Easter. Most of us don’t even consider where the nearest church is located when choosing a place to live.
Today I invite you to ‘take inventory’ of your life and your local church. Do you live close enough to visit regularly for prayer? Is the your local church the center of your routine? If you had just a few minutes to spare, is your church even unlocked for you to enter? These questions may seem odd, but in the spirit of the commemoration of the consecration today, they are most appropriate.
Use today to make a plan to reestablish a life the centers around your local church. If you need to move closer to make that happen, start making a plan. If you need to work with your local clergy and Parish Council to make the church available to people other than on Sundays, start making a plan that includes your help to make it happen. The church is more than a building, but the building has been anointed with the same Holy Chrism you were anointed with at your baptism. It is worth your time.