Could I ever forget the first time I saw the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem? My jaw dropped, with mouth wide open. Huge…awesome…forbidding–not my mouth, the church! To enter, you go through rather small doors. Cross a threshold and… there it is! The most amazing church in all the world.
Was constructed by order of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 325AD. He wanted a church to commemorate the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. Emperor Hadrian, in the first century AD, had buried this Christian site, building over it a pagan temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and pleasure. Hadrian wanted no place remembering Jesus.
Today the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is shared by the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and varied Coptic sects. In Jerusalem, we were drawn back to this enormous, ancient edifice time and time again. With sight of candles in darkened corners. Incense filled the air with a certain sweet smell. Chanting could be heard in a distant chapel. Worshippers lined up for confession. Tourists everywhere, including us. Almost too amazing for words.
Psalm 63: 2–‘So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.’ Reminded me of entering through those rather small doors of the Church. Crossing the threshold, entering the sanctuary. Your head moves up as the entryway gives way to the heights of the building. Higher and higher your eyes take you. As if in the presence of Almighty God.
Also reminds me of what heaven will be like for believers. We enter a small door. Jesus calls Himself the door(John 10:9). There is no other. He is the way(John 14:6). The only way. He extends His hand for you to take. Grab hold and you’ll find His grasp stronger than yours. The way it should be. He leads you over the threshold into His huge church. You’ll keep looking up, gazing all around, never bored, never reaching the end of wonders. For we find ourselves in the house of the Lord… forever! Not even the Church of the Holy Sepulchre can hold a candle…to all the glory of God in His heaven!
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for a future that is truly out of this world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.