So that I could learn what their church services are like, I have occasionally been allowed to go in and hear sermons. The preacher in the pulpit is stationed in the east. Directly in front sit the people who are in greater light of wisdom than others, while to their right and left are the people in less light. The seating is laid out in a circular form so that everyone can be seen by the preacher. No one is off to the sides and out of the preacher’s sight. Newcomers stand by the door at the eastern end of the church to the left of the pulpit. No one is allowed to stand behind the pulpit; if anyone is there, the preacher loses the train of thought. The same thing happens if anyone in the congregation disagrees, so anyone who does is obliged to look away.
The sermons there are given with such wisdom that their earthly counterparts cannot be compared to them: people in the heavens actually experience a more inward light.
Churches in the spiritual kingdom seem to be made of stone, and those in the heavenly kingdom of wood. This is because stone corresponds to the truth that occupies people in the spiritual kingdom and wood to the good that occupies people in the heavenly kingdom. The buildings in this latter kingdom are not called “churches” but “houses of God.”
Buildings in the heavenly kingdom are devoid of splendor, but in the spiritual kingdom they are more or less ornate.
I also talked with one particular preacher about the holy state characteristic of people who are listening to preachers in church. He said that there is something reverent, devout, and holy in all of us depending on the deeper levels of our love and faith, since there is something holy within our love and faith because the Lord’s divine [presence] is there. He added that he did not know what anything holy was apart from these. Further, he said that when he thought about something externally holy apart from these, it might possibly be something that mimicked holiness in outer appearance, something acquired either by skill or by hypocrisy. A deceptive fire arising from love for oneself and the world would generate and present this kind of appearance.
from Heaven and Hell, Sections 223, 224