Most of the medieval Christian cathedrals and churches were built so as to face the east. The front of the church is the apse, the place where the altar is situated, and this means that the façade, which faces the west, or the setting of the sun, is actually the back. This signalled that the churches had their focus on the light and against the powers of darkness. All Saints’ Church also faces east, symbolising how our attention is towards the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.
A biblical characterisation of the Church is Noah’s ark, a place of safety. This is also why the medieval architects endeavoured to make churches look like great ships. The nave (from the Latin “navis” meaning boat) is surrounded by high walls, which in turn are flanked by buttresses or stained glass windows, like oars coming out of the side of ships.
The idea is that the church is Noah’s ark, moving through the stormy waters of sin, towards a place of safety to which all people are called. So the church is a shelter from the storm, a boat tossing on the waves of a dysfunctional world. But Jesus told us to “go and make disciples of all nations,” (Mat 28:19) knowing that we are not meant to hunker down permanently behind the walls of the ship, but to courageously shine His light on others in our daily lives.