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Saturday, November 14 2020

This is #34 in Crossing the Threshold series.

Ok what did I mean by that last sentence about leaving the earthly dimension and entering the heavenly realm? I think the best way to explain this and to open eyes to the beauty of Christian worship is to take you to a little island in the heart of Paris. Right in the middle of the Seine river are two small islands, with the largest one holding the most glorious chapel built in the 13thc. by King Louis IX to house his collection of Passion relics.

Sainte-Chapelle ( Holy Chapel) has two chambers; a lower chamber built for the King’s household and an upper chamber where the relics were kept and the King himself worshipped. Today one enters the lower level first, it is a beautiful room having a dark blue ceiling with gold stars and golden arches, giving one the feeling of being on earth and looking up at the night sky. There are small windows letting in limited light which adds to the impression of being “underground”.  In the corner  is a small staircase which leads to the upper chamber and when one “ascends” and comes into the King’s chapel it is difficult not to gasp. Actually there is a holy hush in the room as people file in and sit transfixed by the incredible stained glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle.

What King Louis was trying to capture in his masterpiece was the “New Jerusalem” coming down, described by John in Revelation 21 and 22. The windows sparkle like jewels when the light shines through and the twelve pillars of the apostles are all meant to give one the feeling of having entered  the heavenly city. Yes, Sainte-Chapelle proclaims heaven and earth have been reunited in Christ; he is the staircase, the gate, the door, the ladder whatever metaphor you want to use to say that in him one can now ascend into the very throne room of God ( Hebrews 4:16).

Look up some images of Sainte-Chapelle’s lower and upper chambers as an exercise of your imagination. We will go back to “ going to church” in the next post, but it might be good at this point to pause and give thanks to our glorious God for all he has done in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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