Report by John-Peter Gernaat
The month began with Rev. Michaël Merle speaking on Discovering the meaning of Christian Symbols on Sundays 1 and 8 August. Michaël drew a clear distinction between signs, which give direction, signals, that are messages sent over a distance between a sender and a receiver, and symbols that go beyond telling a story. Symbols carry a world of meaning and allow us to gain a deeper meaning of life. But we need education to understand symbols.
The ultimate symbol of Christianity is Christ. Christ fully represents everything we experience in Christ. So, when the disciples ask: “show us the Father”, Christ can truly respond: “if you know me, you know the Father”. A symbol, therefore, is a representation of something that cannot by shown. Symbols can be represented in form, in tone or in words. Michaël shared several symbols and what each represented, starting with simple symbols such as the vertical line and the horizontal line.
The ox and the ass that are integral to the nativity scene with which we are familiar do not come from the Gospel story, but rather from the signs of the Zodiac. In the heart of the sign Cancer, the faintest of the signs of the Zodiac, is a cluster of stars called ‘the manger’. The symbology that was understood before the birth of Jesus shaped the unfolding symbols in the story of his birth.
In the sacraments of The Christian Community there is a lot of symbology. The vestments that the priests wear are symbolic. The first vestment the priest dons is a black cassock. This is not often seen and represents the physical body. The white alb that covers the black cassock represents the etheric body. The belt represents the astral body that holds everything together. The priestly stole represents the I-constitution. The chasuble, which means ‘little house’, represents the future bodies that are being worked on by the I-constitution.
There are symbols in the architecture of cathedrals, in the height of the spires on the western façade of Chartres Cathedral, for example, and the difference between the respective spire heights. This gap is the gap between the lunar year and the solar year, the twelve Holy Nights. There will be future talks that will focus more specifically on certain symbols.
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