Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Stairway to Heaven

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
The Sunday School class I'm teaching this semester is called, "Our once and future worship: A study of the Book of Revelation." After peeking into the worshipping congregation of heaven in chapter 5, we took a few weeks to look at the history of liturgy and church architecture.

One of the key themes of the early Eucharist of the Church is the eschatological direction and the idea that the earthly and heavenly sanctuary overlap in the canon of the Mass. One of the ceremonial elements that I find most enriching is the "stairway to heaven" posture of the celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon in the High Mass. It is intended to express in a visual way the hierarchy of heaven. I find the effect to be a striking reminder of the sanctuary as the meeting place of heaven and earth--as striking a visual reminder as the presence of statues or icons of the saints around the Altar.

In Genesis 28:10-17, Jacob has the vision of the stairway to heaven at Bethel. When he awakes, Jacob is moved to respond, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

No comments: