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Cross

Christianity
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Church (Building)

by Rev. Fr. K. K. John

‘Church’ means both assembly of faithful and building in which they assemble. Syriac “Eetho”= bring together. Greek “Ecclesia”=call and separate (Mat 16). Hebrew “Quhal”=an assembly.

The Church is beyond definition. So various images are implied to explain such as, bride of Christ, 2 C 11:2, Eph 5:25, Body of Christ, 1C 12:27, Rom 12:4-5, Vineyard of God, Jn 15, Assembly of faithful in the unity of Godhead, Rom 10:12.

Church Building: Earliest form of Church is Tabernacle, also called the tent of meeting, which was built according to the pattern God showed to Moses, Ex 25:9, Heb 9: 1-5. In the second phase there is no mention of tabernacle or permanent place. People used to offer sacrifices in high places (Poojagiri). Solomon sacrificed in Gibeon, 1K 3:2-4. David wanted to construct a permanent place of worship. He made all arrangements but God forbid him because he was a man of war and blood, 1 Chr 28:3. The task of building the temple was entrusted to Solomon and he did it. Plan, measurement and quality of materials were exactly as Lord revealed to David. “The Lord made me, understand in writing, by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern, 1Chr 28:19. Jerusalem Temple is center of Jewish worship.

Church faces east, Holy of Holies at the eastern end. We pray/worship facing East because the Second Coming, our Lord said, will be from the east, Mat 24:27. Importance to east is seen throughout Bible. Sun rises in the east, Num 21:11. Rising luminaries gave the standard of direction for the ancient people. They called it front, east (Kdom). Garden of Eden was in the east, Gen 2:8. God placed Cherubim to guard the Tree of Life at the east side of the garden, Gen 3:24. Noah’s arc floated to the east. When Moses stretched out his staff, east-wind blew and filled the land with locusts, Ex 10:13. Glory of God came from the east, Ezk 43:2. The way to the gate outward to sanctuary towards east is called the gate of the Prince. It should be shut and shall not be opened for the God of Israel has entered through it, Ezk 44:1-3. This symbolizes ever-virginity of St Mary. The forefront of the house stood towards the east, 47:2.

The building has 4 parts: Church is visible symbol of Noah’s arc and Mount Sinai where Lord descended and gave His Commandments to Israelites, Ex 19. Partition and prohibition of faithful to enter the azhikakam and Holy of Hollies is based on this concept. Yahweh told Moses that He would come down to the Mount Sinai, Ex 19:9-12 and give the Law. People were to assemble in the plains of Sinai, cleansing their clothes and bodies and not going to their wives for three days. They were forbidden to step on the mountain or to touch its border, v12.

1, Narthex, Mandolam is the western side of the building where catechumens used to assemble. They were not allowed to participate in the Anaphora. Women after conception and delivery underwent purification rites here. This is one step lower than the rest of the church. Now this has lost traditional meaning and commonly known as porch to hang coats and keeping shoes.

2, Nave or Haiklo is the largest portion where faithful stand and worship. Men stand on north, women on south side and the center is blank. Olden days women stood behind men. It is the most important place reserved for the departed and the unseen hosts for we believe the church includes not only the living members but also the departed faithful and those yet to be born and that they are also participating in the holly worship along with us. “Levi who receives tithe paid tithe through Abraham for he was in the loins of Abraham,” says Heb 7:9. How Abraham gave on behalf of Levi who is the great grandson if children yet to be born not accounted as members? We unite in our worship with the unceasing heavenly worship covering past, present and future.

3, Kesthurno (literal meaning is, not risen from earth). This is one step above the Haiklo and two-steps below the Kdooskudisin and separated by wooden rail. Only those with kaivapu (imposition of hands from prelates to perform altar service) are allowed to enter here. Faithful is confined to the Haiklo. Baptismal fond, if no separate baptistery, is situated in this place.

4, Sanctuary: Madbaho or Kduskudisin or Holy of hollies: This is high and exalted throne of God which Isaiah saw, Ch 6. This is Holy altar, which is throne of God. This is the paradise where Tree of life situated, mount Golgotha and Tomb of Christ. This we will separately deal.

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