Sunday, August 31, 2014

Post and Lintel

They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel

of the houses in which they eat it. -Exodus 12:7

Most children with building blocks will build a post and lintel system. Two blocks stand vertically (posts), and a third block is placed horizontally across them (lintel). Post and lintel is the engineering of Stonehenge on a scale much larger than children's building blocks.

In addition to the instruction to paint with the blood of the Passover lamb on the doorposts of a house, Deuteronomy 6:9 and Deuteronomy 11:20 direct that certain words of God should be on the doorposts of homes. The word mezuzah actually means doorpost, but the word has come to mean the doorpost and the container that is attached to it. In the container is a piece of parchment on which are written the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deuteronomy 11:13-21. On the back of the parchment is the word shaddai. Shaddai is one of the mystical names for the Almighty and is also an acronym for Shomer Daltot Yisrael, Guardian of the Gates of Israel.

Doorways are places that are "in between". Standing in a doorway one is neither fully in nor fully out. Inside the house is the familiar. Outside the house is the stranger. Inside is "us"; outside is "them". Anything posted on a doorpost sends a message to that "unfamiliar them". What have Christian church doorways looked like? What is the message that our church building doorways send to the world? What have we written on our own doorposts and lintels?

This week on Art&Faith Matters' Facebook page you'll see links to contemporary artists' interpretations of the seder plate. Click on Art&Faith Matters on Facebook.

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