About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Names on the doorframes

While preparing for the sermon this Sunday (Healing of the Centurion’s partner) I came across interesting information which made me to stop and think about our church and its doors and door trafic.
    In 1976 archeologists discovered in south west Turkey, in the ruins of an ancient Hellenistic city of Aphrodisias, a unique artefact. They found a column which most likely was  used to flank the entrance to the local synagogue. The column was covered with a long list of names. On one side were 19 names of a building committee. On the other side were 107 names of donors to the building fund. Sprinkled among the the members of the building committee, five were not born Jews because three were described as converts and two as sympathizers (worshipers of God). Financial supporters on the other hand were clearly divided into two groups - 55 regular members of the congregation and then after a narrow gap the inscription continued “And those who are God-worshipers” followed by 52 Greek names of  sympathizers, many of them high ranking city and military officers. Faith community in Aphrodisias was clearly quite a lively, open, surprisingly inclusive place.

Appropriate part of Aphrodisias' inscription with highlighted ΚAΙ ΟΣΟΙ ΘEΟΣEΒΙΣ "And those who are God-faithful"
    Then I started to think about our Rutgers community of faith. Who could be mentioned on our doorframe? Of course the members of our worshiping community, our founders, our donors, and supporters. Also included should be all sorts of supporters and volunteers and friends who are forming and shaping our broader community. And now who are all those who are crossing our doorstep: volunteers from our Thursday meal program, a weekly unemployment self-support group, a group for nursing mothers, a group for mothers of newborn babies, a meditation/relaxation group, AIDS support meetings, a creative writing group for budding artists, Feldenkrais exercisers, nannies bringing children to our programs and using our space to have a quiet moment. A twice-a-week meeting for GLBT marathoners, a large and growing Boy Scout troop, a weekend homeless shelter, an almost daily many different AA and Lambda groups. And I cannot forget about one hundred or so different classes for children and adults.
    Meanwhile we open our doors to special events like concerts, community meetings, an elections polling place, as well as special meetings such as two Saturdays ago we hosted a day-long meeting of about 70 Veterans for Peace from the North East, next week it will be a public hearing and discussion on the immorality of solitary confinement. At any one time you might hear a Mandarin song from the fourth floor, a soccer whistle from the basement, or you can come across a class of nursing mothers and hear an operatic voice exercising from the mezzanine, while smelling 60+ delicious dinners being cooked on the fifth floor ...
    Even our Sunday worship becomes a new experience with the regular and joyful participation of those who might be called seekers, and sympathizers but certainly not traditional last century Christians. We come for all different reasons, sometimes personal and communal, sometimes political, cultural, social, and spiritual and all of their combinations and mixtures. Even without any inscriptions on the doorposts, at Rutgers we indeed continue in the ancient-new experiment of forming a lively community of nondoctrinal faith, truly inclusive, a metropolitan church with a very broad embrace.
    In place of doorframe inscriptions we have started to bring to our sanctuary art from our community classes. This Sunday it is a new installation of a chancel curtain inspired by the Ghanian artist El Anatsui.

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