The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. I Corinthians 16:19
Father Jerome Sanderson quoted this text and I just couldn’t help but to think about how silly a lot of us Christians are when we complain about how ungodly our society has become. Aquila and Priscilla had a church in their house. The very dwelling place of this couple was dedicated to the worship of God whether it was the community of believers, or just themselves. As the head of the household, Paul and other early Christian writers felt that the man of the house should also be the priest of his house and the wife to be the God-fearing helper to this domestic priesthood. The children were to be brought up in the fear of the Lord and guest were to be exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the persecutions of the Church ended, it was suggested by the early fathers that each home have, at least, a corner of their homes as a dedicated worship area. It was to face eastward with a couple of icons, the Scriptures and other spiritual writings, and, perhaps, a lamp. Some icon corners were very elaborate, others simple. But, the purpose was the same; to bring the same spirit of worship seen in the church building on Sunday morning into the home for the rest of the week. The husband was qualified to lead family prayers and the wife with him. The children were to worship with tier parents. In the case of no husband being around, the matriarch of the family would then lead, as in the case of Timothy. If the man was unmarried, he was still to conduct his own prayers with himself, or any believer that came to visit him. Either way, the Christian home was a church in lock-step with the designated church where believers from all homes came together.
Over the years, too many Christians have not heard of this model. Iconoclasm destroyed the use of holy images as such people ignorantly mistook them for idols. Doctrines such as sola scriptura (scripture alone) and soul competency taught that individual believers could know what the Bible means for themselves without correction from anyone else, even the church. Clergy were frequently put on a high pedestal due to their education. Thus, laymen left the idea of being a priest to the scholars. Chauvinism gave men an arrogance above their wives that poisoned their ability to give themselves up for their wives as Christ did for the church. Without such sacrificial love, they became poor priest when they did try to assume that role in their homes. Combine these toxins with the various means of entertainment that have developed over time and the pursuits of the flesh that have been with us since the days of Adam and Eve; and we can see that the very church that Paul praised his friends for having is absent for too many people today.
Sure, prayer in schools is a great idea. But, if there is no church in the private homes, how can we hold the teachers and administrators responsible for making one in the public square? God made husband and wife, male and female; not Assistant principal and Forth Grade Social Studies Teacher. Yes, it would be nice if everyone came to church on Sunday. But, if they don’t worship in the house they already live in, why would they come to a house that is only open on Sundays and Wednesdays? And if they did come to the briefly opened church building without making their own homes houses of worship, is their worship that stable or genuine? We can bemoan how America has strayed away from its Christian roots all day long. But, without men and women taking their lay priestly roles seriously and making their homes a house of worship, we have no one to blame for this failure but ourselves.
I would challenge anyone to establish a prayer corner in their homes and make at least 15 minutes in the morning and night a time for prayer and scripture. For my non-Orthodox friends, have a cross and Bible to start with. Every Orthodox Christian should have a traditional style (Eastern or Oriental) icon of Christ, the Theotokos, and a favorite saint along with the scriptures and a prayer book. I personally love the Trisagion Prayers. But, use the opening prayers of your jurisdiction or what your priest recommends. Read the scriptures of the day aloud. Pray for those who are on your mind and offer your own words to God. End with an appropriate closing prayer. Push to add more time to your home worship. But, don’t over-do it. That would be a source of self-righteousness. You will eventually become weary and quit, making you as bad as you were before, if not worse. Again, talk to your priest or confessor about your rule of prayer.
No, this is not going to give you “supernatural breakthroughs of Gods ever increasing overflows for a shift to a next level anointing.” But, with time and consistency, you may,
- drop a few bad habits
- understand scripture better
- be more kind and patient
And some other good stuff that every Christian should strive for. If St. Seraphim of Sarov is right, your light may rub off on someone else:
Obtain a spirit within yourself and a thousand souls will be saved.