By Saint John Maximovitch
Some people are saying: “The time is not come to build the Lord’s house.”
Among them are many who are buying houses for themselves, who live in their own houses in full satisfaction of their material needs, or who are selling their homes to move into better and better dwellings, increasing their assets. It is understandable when such words are heard from unbelievers…But how can they be repeated by believers who themselves go to church?
A church is a place that is consecrated, holy, in which there always dwells the grace of God. At the consecration of Solomon’s temple, the glory of the Lord in the appearance of a cloud filled the house of God. So it was in the Old Testament temple. How much more powerfully does the grace of God act in the temples of the New Testament where there is offered the true cleansing from sin, where we partake of the true Body and Blood of Christ, where during the Divine Liturgy the Holy Spirit continually descends upon the gifts being consecrated and upon the people present?
One can pray anywhere, and God hears prayers from everywhere. But it’s much easier to pray in a church where everything is conducive to prayer. From there our prayers ascend to God, and the mercies of God are sent down upon us.
The construction of a church is a sacrifice to God; to allocate a parcel of land for church services is to sacrifice unto God a part of your own property, but most of all it is a gift of your love, your zeal. Churches are not needed by God Whose throne is heaven and Whose footstool is the earth; it is we who need them.
It is we who benefit from donating toward the building of churches, although the Lord accepts not so much the substances of our alms as much as He does our zeal - the quality of our effort.
Christ approved the widow’s mite, saying that she had given more than anyone else, for the rich cast in a great deal from their abundance, but she gave all she had, all her livelihood. Those alms we give in the name of God are received by God Himself. Spiritually, our alms are laid up in the treasuries of heaven, God’s treasuries, from which no one can steal them away. If someone steals any church possession, he steals from God Himself.
At each Liturgy, those who contributed to the building of the church are commemorated. In building churches here on earth, we create for ourselves eternal habitations in heaven. Decades will pass, our bodies will decay, perhaps our very bones will turn to dust, but our souls will live eternally. Happy will he be who prepared for his soul a dwelling in the heavenly mansions. Even if the churches which are built should fall to ruin, the names of those who contributed to their construction will be written in God’s eternal books, and the prayers which arose from within these Churches will be sealed.