Bringing the Temple Home

As we continue to worship at home, many of us miss our building. As Anglicans we are known for our commitment to our historic church buildings, but we might not always think about why they are so important to us.

The Jewish people at the time of Jesus had special buildings too - especially the Temple. The first Christians continued to worship in the Temple in the book of Acts. Before the Temple was built the Jewish people worshipped God in a tent - the Tabernacle.

All of these special places were important to followers of God. And it is right that our buildings are special to us today, It is okay to miss them! But all of these places are special, not because of what they are on earth but because of what they represent in heaven.

Throughout the bible we are given a picture of heaven as a Temple, where God is worshipped. The book of Revelation in the New Testament gives the clearest image of how the earliest Christians saw that heavenly worship, and what their ideal for earthly worship was. Throughout Christian history (and in different traditions) this has been interpreted in different ways - our buildings are intended to be images or icons of heaven.

There is no reason that the symbols we see in heaven (and in our church building) cannot be used in our homes. For some of us we may have physical space to place these symbols, for others we may have a special drawer or box where we keep them, and then use them for devotional times.

The Sea in heaven represents the waters of baptism - and we see this in church buildings with the font. We are always happy to send out blessed (holy) water to members of the congregation - but there is an argument that when Jesus was baptised in the Jordan all the waters of the world were blessed! Before worship or prayer we may wish to dip our fingers in water and make the sign of the cross, remembering our own baptism.

The Lamps bring together the images of light and oil that are very familiar to us at All Saints. Lighting a candle is something we are encouraged to do at the beginning of every service, and prayer with oil comes during communion or after the service finishes. There is no reason we cannot use these symbols at other times.

The Scroll is seen in our bibles. The Bible is not just for church buildings! I hope we all have a bible we are able to read at home, if not we are happy to send you one.

Incense brings together lots of symbols: the fire of the Spirit, our prayers ascending to God and the sweetness of God's presence with us. You don't have to use church incense at home (although kits are available to buy - and if you are unable to shop online we can help!)

We may not have an Altar at home, but some people find it helpful to set up a table with a white cloth when praying. This table can be used with the other symbols as a focus for prayer. Some people prepare that table with different liturgical colours depending on the season.

Finally few of us have a Throne (or as we have in the church building a Tabernacle where the sacrament is reserved - and Christ is present), but many of us find icons and images helpful. Perhaps an Icon of Jesus or of the Trinity. In Revelation the Temple is filled with martyrs and saints. <any see Mary as the woman in Chapter 12.

This small icon brings Jesus and Mary together, or perhaps a larger Icon with the classic Rublev image of the Trinity. Again if online shopping is not your thing please let us know.

A cross is also a symbol of Jesus, and at home many of us find a holding cross helpful.

The reality is that many of us will be worshipping from home for some time. Where church buildings have opened elsewhere in the world there has sadly been a spread of infection. As we manage our risks with the easing of lock-down I am committed to church not being responsible for anyone getting sick.

If you need any help in creating space at home to help you pray and worship please email or call us.