Sevananilayam and a big question
We celebrated Bishop Sam’s 75th birthday – a worthy birthday. Well done. Everybody enjoyed the birthday thanksgiving, meeting, messages and of course the get-together. But the message from the bishop is what we want to draw your attention to. Everybody heard what he said in full admiration and that in little pomposity too. However, how many of the listeners ‘listened’? Did anybody ‘listen’ to the ‘feelings’ of the birthday boy? We doubt. We doubt very much. That is one question. Another question is if so listened then what….? The truth is nobody listened with their heart or it fell on deaf ears – except this website. And as usual Ascension church went its way as usual.
Bishop Sam had narrated the incident behind the thought of Sevananilayam, – the difficulties a person would face while at the Kottayam medical college for any reason – its purpose and what he had envisaged. He revealed his heart. His readiness, his mind’s realization to change the doctrines of our missionary work, his broadmindedness to share with non-Christians, all the more to uphold the greatest of Lord JC’s teachings ‘Love thy neighbor’, the need to accept our fellow beings as they are. The bishop had wanted a ‘Universal church’, a unique ‘sanctuary’ where people of all religions could converge, squat alongside and open their hearts and drop their pains before that celestial ‘Omni’ or meditate or relate to their own Gods. When he pointed to the faded and dusty ‘Nilavilakkukal’ (traditional lamps) in disarray in front of the Alter and said sadly “but somehow it is like this now” his words choked in his throat. Yes. We had managed to make his Sevananilayam into an exclusively Christian domain – ours.
What did he have in mind when he started on this? We believe it was something like this.
Ω A purpose to promote the unity of various religious ideals, to offer opportunities to those belonging to different religions to worship together, and to worship that one source from which all scriptures evolved.
Ω Nothing; no community, Church, or belief, should keep anyone aside from the realization in which lies the purpose of life.
Ω That the light emitting from all the different religions such as the Qur´an, the Bible, the Ramayana, the Buddhist scriptures, Tanakh the holy book of Jews or other teachings similar, should be shared by everyone. They all shed the same light and more or less the same in principles.
Ω To remember that the purpose of this ‘sanctuary’ is to draw the community together.
Ω This be not a mission to promote our creed; it is a work to unite followers of different religions and faiths, so that without having to give up their own religion they may strengthen their own faith and focus the true light upon it, to draw the community together.
Ω That the consciousness of humanity may be awakened to the divinity of the human being.
Ω Provide a ‘sanctuary’ to find solace for the troubled hearts in their own ways.
What did he want? We believe it is something like this.
Ω The ‘Sanctuary’ be kept open 24 hours of the day. The need and the needy can come at any hour.
Ω On the altar be placed the scriptures of all the religions mentioned and not mentioned above or on a round table (to represent cosmos ) placed at the center around which all can gather.
Ω There be placed candles, flowers, incense sticks, lighted lamps, chalices with sandal cream and hanging bells to represent all these religions and for all to use at free will, also to evoke a serene divine worship atmosphere.
Ω Isolate the ‘sanctuary’ from external sound pollution and maintain silence so as not to disturb anybody meditating.
Ω Keep the ‘sanctuary’ devoid of any pictures of Gods or symbols pertaining to any religion
or use the relevant symbols and pictures of all religions.
……………. Just to name a few, may be somebody should ask Bishop Sam.
It is a regular to see people standing in prayer outside the chapel in tears and folded hands (even in rain)murmuring their pains. On one such occasion we told one woman she could go in and pray. Her reply was touching. She said “I am not a Christian and am afraid my presence will spoil its sanctity. I don’t want to do that”. Yes. Out of respect for us many people won’t step in. We should return this respect of theirs that they give by giving them theirs. Shouldn’t we? Instead of placing love we are placing scare. This website believes our “Oh, anybody can go in and pray” that satisfies us is neither proper nor satisfactory. That is a blind excuse to justify ourselves.
We believe what we need more than the Holy Communion every Sunday at the Sevananilayam is communions of communities every day, all through the day and also make them holy. It is alright to have the chapel but then we better have a ‘Universal sanctuary church’ too alongside like how the bishop envisaged. A good interior designer can make one out of the two rooms adjoining the chapel on the ground floor ie if Ascension church wants to decide. We are sure we would be celebrating the birth centenary of this bishop in his absence 25 years from now. And we believe his soul would be attending that grand function too. Do we want to choke his soul then also? Better, if we can make him see his dream come true while he is with us here now and let him rest his soul in peace. 25 years is quite some lo……ong years away.
Come on…. ‘Church with a heart’, have heart. Have a heart for community and for this good bishop.
Shouldn’t we? That… is the big question.