Nexus Will Visit Houses Of Worship In Its 3rd Season
This query came one summer Saturday as she watched me clean the toilet bowl.
(Murphy's Law of Motherhood: Kids always ask the most profound questions at the most mundane moments.)
"What do you mean, sweetie?" I asked.
"Well, how do we know about God? We can't see him or anything."
"No, we can't see God, but God does speak to us."
"Not to me."
I put down the brush and peeled off the rubber gloves, washed my hands and sat down beside my daughter.
Some questions require a parent's full attention.
"You know, Mom," said Jordannah, "in `The Prince of Egypt,' God actually talks to Moses, but I don't ever hear him talking to me."
This is a tough one for adults. How do you explain it to a first-grader?
"Well," I said gently, "a long, long, long time ago, when we didn't have the Bible to tell us about God, God had to actually talk out loud to people so they could learn about him. Then, they began writing down those stories and put them together to make the Bible, and little by little God stopped talking out loud to people and started to just talk to their hearts."
"Oh, so it's like love," Jordannah said.
"Absolutely," I responded, amazed at her pint-sized insight. "When God talks to our hearts, it feels like love."
"But how do we know stuff about God?" she persisted.
"Well, we read the Bible and we go to church, but we also know about God by listening to our hearts. And then we also listen to other people talk about what God tells their hearts. God talks to everybody's heart."
"Ohhhh," said Jordannah in her light-bulb moment.
Mission accomplished. I could now move on to the shower stall soap scum.
I've thought often about that brief conversation in the several weeks since it took place, and I decided it would be the perfect set-up for announcing Nexus III. For newcomers to this column, Nexus is the interfaith dialogue group I started in 1999.
In the first season, Christians and Jews sorted out their differences and commonalities. Last year, the discussions broadened to include Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans and Baha'is.
Nexus - to put it in terms Jordannah would understand - is learning about God by listening to others tell how God speaks to their hearts.
This year Nexus is going a step further than just panel discussions about faith. The Nexus audience will actually travel to different houses of faith and experience varied forms of worship.
Each "worship visit" will be preceded by an orientation session. At that session potential visitors will learn about the group we'll be visiting from a panel of about six congregants, each representing a different constituency - clergy, music, youth and so on - within their faith group.
The orientation panel will tell us what their faith means to them and what they believe the public most misunderstands about them. They will explain the beliefs and practices of their tradition and also prep "visitors" for their worship service, explaining particulars such as rituals and proper dress.
The first group to be visited is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormons. The orientation - which is open to all - will be Monday, Oct. 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Boyd Dining Hall at Virginia Wesleyan College. The visit to that group's worship service will be Sunday, Oct. 28. Only those who have attended the orientation session may sign up for the worship visit!
Other faith groups to be visited this year are Jewish (Conservative), Unitarian Universalist and Roman Catholic. In June, we will also take a bonus trip to tour the Association for Research and Enlightenment, or ARE.
Next year, we plan to visit an Islamic masjid, a predominately African-American Baptist church, a Hindu temple and a Protestant church, and then we'll take a bonus tour of Regent University.
People talking about God. People listening to others talk about God.
As Jordannah would say, "It's like love."
Nexus is co-sponsored by The Virginian-Pilot, the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom and the National Conference for Community and Justice. For further information, call 455-3129.
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