Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vol. 5 - The Hidden Seed and the Two Doors

The "Hidden Seed"

In a previous Moravian Ruminations it was noted that by 1628 little remained of those who would be called Moravians. Force of arms shattered a people – a community of faith. A devastated people is not, however, the end of the story of the Moravians. Not by a long shot.  

Into the midst of what was left of the shattered people came one of the finest bishops of the Unity (i.e., Moravians), John Amos Comenius 1592 - 1670, pictured above. Parenthetically, when God is up to something big He does not send a committee, but a person. Bishop Comenius watched his people, his church dissolve. In response he prayed for and sought to plant what he called the “hidden seed.” He urged one generation of Moravian believers to pass the “hidden seed” of faith, and the ways of the Unity, to the next generation. He also accomplished the preservation of the apostolic line of succession of bishops. The work of Bishop Comenius continues today in a fellowship guided by bishops in apostolic succession, in local churches of the Moravians, and in the worldwide mission effort.  

While noting the concept of “hidden seed” let us not forget that Jesus spoke of seed many centuries before Bishop Comenius. He did that in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23). Why not read the parable afresh. 

Let us note that Jesus concludes His parable: "The one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown" (Matthew 13:23).

What seed are you planting with your kids, the next generation? If you are a believer, Moravian or not, you have a seed pouch filled with seed – the Word of God. It is beyond the scope of this brief article to detail how the seed is spread but there are many resources about you to help in that regard.

May the hidden seed bear fruit. Amen. Rick

The Two Doors

An original drawing of Home Church.
Source of the image is unknown.
There were and are two entrance doors on the west side of Home Church. The west door was for men, the Brothers, and the southwest door for the Sisters. In the image above the door to the right was the Sister’s door.

Once in the worship space the women sat together on the east side of the church and the men on the west. This pattern continued until the renovation of 1870, according to the Interpreter’s Manual of Home Church.  

Ruminate with me, please, about the segregation of the sexes for worship. But, first a disclaimer. I am not suggesting a return to the practice. I do, though, want to think about it with you.

The Western Wall, Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel
Note the barrier that divides the males from the females.
First, let us note that the practice has not disappeared. One obvious example is the Jewish worship space(s) at the Western Wall, formerly called the Wailing Wall, in Jerusalem. In the photograph the women pray to the right and the men to the left. Another example would be a Moravian cemetery, called God's Acre, where the sexes are buried separately to this day.

God's Acre, Salem, NC
Photo Credit: NCBrian via Flickr. Used with permission.
But, back to the former pattern of Moravian worship, specifically at Home Church. As you think about such separation for worship may I ask what you think the Moravians, and other groups, wanted to communicate by it? Were they dead wrong in this practice? Is it explained simply as rampant “sexism” or "patriarchalism"? Was there value to be had in the division? What is the most positive thing you could say about the two entrance doors and seating by gender?

It is worth noting in this context that the 240 year old Salem College situated directly next to Home Church proudly remains a women’s college. On their website they offer an apology for the value of segregation of the sexes for education and preparation for life.