“One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek; That I may dwell in the house of the
Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4).
My prayer for each newly baptized and chrismated child of God is that the above desire may be fulfilled, and that it will influence that child throughout a lifetime. And where is the beauty of the Lord to be found in His house? In the architecture, the cupolas and domes, the icons and altar? Yes. In the sacred services, especially the Divine Liturgy? Of course. Is it in the sacred mysteries, the acme being Holy Communion? Even more—the Lord’s beauty is revealed in His image, radiating from the faces and felt in the embraces of those created to convey His likeness.
How lovely are the attitudes of those who look not only at the altar, but all around them, and show signs of kindness and affection to all those who share the joy of the Lord’s presence. We are Christ’s family gathered in prayer. Some may be dressed in tasteful, stylish clothing, yet their hearts can be burdened with despondency or frustration. It takes but a look of compassion to buoy their spirits and allow them to take away an uplift of soul. Take time to share your heart with theirs.
Children among us are not always pleased with themselves. They may not be achieving the grades they expect. Perhaps they’ve been dropped from the team, or maybe they failed to be selected for a part in a play or a place in some school program. Let us surround them with affection and cause them to realize that they will never be chastised nor rebuked here in God’s house. They need not do anything to win our love. Pray God we rejoice in their innocence and enthusiasm, and not stifle it.
How pleasant it is to pray with the young families who make the effort to rise from sleep, dress and assemble their children and bring them to church each Sunday. Should we not celebrate their spirit? Can we not make every liturgy a special event, so that the children will bear in their memories thoughts of happiness where strangers showed them love and understanding, where they always felt wanted, and where they were made to feel special not for what they did, but for who they are.
Secular society venerates youth. The elders are intimidated into looking as young as possible, even when their old age is displayed for all to see. But in God’s House this is not the case. We expect the mature to have a loftier set of values. We honor the scars on the souls of those who have struggled against Satan and conquered. Beauty is found in the wrinkles of their faces and the gnarled fingers that have held prayer books each day through their lifetimes. We respect them for their endurance.
The house of the Lord must always be an inn of comfort for all who are restless, weary and in need of solace. For those whose world is filled with ugliness, anxiety and distress, God’s temple has to be a spiritual hospital where their souls’ wounds will be treated. The beauty of the sanctuary is a hospice of truth about life everlasting for those who are grasped by thoughts of death and dying.
The above passage from Psalms is a challenge for each of us who claim to love the Lord with all our hearts, our souls and our minds. How can we manifest the beauty of the temple in ways that are accessible to those in search of that beauty? What more can we do to convert this world into the temple of the Lord? How can you please the Lord by enhancing the life of somebody today?