The Lord Will Build a House
By Marty Norman –
For two thousand years the Lord has been building a house. Brick by brick, stone upon stone he lays out his handiwork. As believers, we are the body of Christ; we are the church; we are the house. Slowly, surely, the Lord takes each of us and carefully places us one on top of another, in a pattern and format that only he knows and will complete.
Recently I attended the ordination of a deacon at an Anglican Church which so clearly drew out that picture for me in physical form. If you’ve never attended an ordination, you must. It was a powerful experience that got my mental juices working overtime.
The first thing noticed was that after a deacon is ordained, he stands at the altar to administer the Sacraments. Once he was a lay person; now he is a deacon, ordained for the work of God. As a minister of the Word he is now allowed to administer the Sacrament. So this was his very first time to participate in that role. Imagine how powerful his emotions must have been at that time.
I noticed that there were two or three men, ordained priests, assisting him. Then it hit me. They were there mentoring him. Just like Paul with Timothy, they were mentoring him in the ways of the Sacrament.
What a powerful picture. It occurred to me that in all our spiritual journeys we are to mentor and be mentored. For once God has anointed and appointed us to ministry, just as the newly ordained deacon is appointed and anointed, so, too must we all move forward in that ministry through mentoring. After many years of discipleship and training, tutoring and learning, we will at some point move from mentoree to mentor, but not for a while. That is how faith is passed down from one generation to the next, one person at a time.
I also noticed the vestments. Following the laying on of hands, the two deacons were vested with the Dalmatic. The words spoken over them were “May the Lord clothe you with the garment of salvation and the vesture of gladness; may the Dalmatic of righteousness always cloak you in the name of the Lord.
I could hardly wait to get home and google “Dalamtic.” You can imagine my surprise when I found it to mean: “a long wide sleeved tunic which serves as a liturgical vestment in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, and United Methodist Church which is sometimes worn by the deacon at the Mass or other service” (Wikipedia).
According to my research, Dalmatics match the liturgical colors of the day. I wondered why the two were different. Then it hit me. The two men were from different churches. Therefore the vestments would be different. This, in turn, brought the twelve tribes of Israel to mind. A picture of heaven and the different tribes and cultures represented.
As I listened to the worship, which was glorious, ethereal and unearthly, I began to ponder what the Scriptures say what the kingdom of heaven will be like. The descriptions range from priceless jewels to glass. I thought to myself, “This must be what worship in the kingdom of heaven is like. Perhaps each church or tribe will be dressed differently to distinguish them one from another, all one family, yet different branches, denominations, cultures and countries.”
I also thought of the Old Testament, how all the feasts and festivals pointed to Jesus. The purpose was for the people to recognize him when he came. The lamb of God at the Passover, the blood on the windows and door frames for protection, the first fruits of the harvest, the sacrifice of blood, the bread on the altar, the empty tomb. It was all there, types and shadows to aid us in recognizing the Messiah when he came.
The traditions in the church were passed down from the Old Testament to the 1st Century to now, thus a uniting of the old and new. Wasn’t God specific about how his temple was to be built, down to the centimeters and cubes, the colors of the yarn and the curtains?
There must be significance in these truths. I pondered their importance. Looking at the deacons’ radiant faces as they processed down the aisle gave me a glimpse into the joy that will be ours as we enter the heavenly places. Music blaring, pomp and circumstance, colorful vestments, it will truly be a grand celebration and welcoming.
The last and most significant event of the day was the sunlight. As the Bishop and the deacons moved about the altar, a bright ray of sunlight shone through the skylight above. If I didn’t know better, I would think that the Lord himself was highlighting and blessing the activity of the day. It was so profound in its timing.
God’s house has been built, will be built and is continuing to be built today. Stone upon stone we are part of a mighty fabric that will glorify God. How blessed we are to be observers and participants in the building of this glorious kingdom.