Memo from Rev. Mathews-Johnson:
Doors. We use them every day. We open them. We close them. We lock them. We knock on them. We stand outside them. We stand inside them. They lock us in. They lock us out. They keep us safe. They keep us away. They say, “Welcome.” They say, “Keep out.” They witness our comings and goings. They offer refuge when we are lost. They tell us when we are home.
The question is, where does the door go? Who gets to walk through the door? What is on the other side? What keeps the door from opening? These are important questions for thinking, questioning, willing-to-dig-deeper people like us.
I think Psalm 84, verses 10-12, provides a clue. “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; [God] bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.”
I want to trust in God, don’t you? I want God to lead me where I should go, help me understand more of life and the people in it, and show me how to live a more Christ-like existence. The question is how to accomplish it.
I confirmed on Google yesterday that there are currently 7.8 billion people in the world.
Every single day they choose to walk through doors—doors of marriage, doors of schools (at least virtually), doors of jobs, doors of spending money, having children or getting a divorce. All those doors carry risks. Your life, to this moment, is simply the sum of all the doors you have chosen to walk through.
If you are single, it is because you have chosen for whatever the reason not to walk through the door of marriage or no one has chosen to walk through that door with you. If you are married, the person you are married to is a result of the decision to walk through that person’s door rather than someone else’s. My husband and I have two children, because when it came to walking through the door that said, “More kids,” I slammed the door, shut it, locked it and threw away the key! Every day of our life we hope and pray that we are walking through the right door at the right time.
On the other hand, there are teenagers who are going to spend the rest of their life behind bars, because they walked through the wrong doors. There are people today in miserable marriages, because they walked through the wrong door. Once, I got a heart-crushing letter from a man who may lose his marriage, because he walked through the wrong door. There is nothing more heartbreaking than to walk through what you think is the right door only to find it was a door of danger, defeat or disillusionment.
We know it’s a scary world out there, with lots of risks and mishaps. And it’s not just us. It’s our faith community, too. We wonder, what door do we need to go through?
I believe the answer is in commitment. A commitment to let God lead you through the doors you should go through. Opening the door of your heart to Jesus. And trusting the Spirit’s direction and help in finding the right door. Roll that all into one and you’ve got people of faith. Not a bunch of perfect people certainly, but folks (in our case) perfectly willing to become the Christians God’s calling us to be. Calling me, and you, too, as well as the neighbor down the street, one way or the other.
A pastor tells of visiting a shut-in who lived in a senior citizen home. All of a sudden, the fire alarm goes off and so does the electricity. There is yelling, and smoke fills the entire floor where the elderly shut-in lives. How they rejoiced when they were finally able to get to an open door where they could breathe fresh air and get away from that fire alarm.
Jesus does that for us. When the alarm goes off in our spirit, it’s telling us that we are breathing in the wrong stuff—we have sinned and fallen short—we have neglected our relationship with him. This is where we find the good news of this story.
In other words, Jesus is saying, “Step in through these doors! We invite you to join us.” Even in a pandemic. Especially in a pandemic.
Not that living a Christian life is easy. There are ethical dilemmas you wouldn’t imagine. But at least with Jesus we’ve got a fighting chance. It happened to the disciples in that upper room when he arose from the dead and walked through that locked door to them. And it can happen to us.
On World Communion (Oct. 4), we will remember that even though we might eat different bread, or speak different languages, or pray differently, Jesus loves each of us! That’s why we work with COPA—Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action (www.copaiaf.org), a regional nonprofit made up of 28 member institutions, currently holding virtual house meetings in Watsonville on community safety and policing. As local organizer Mayra Bernabe explains: “The community is invited to make sure your stories are heard. Your voice counts!” And it does.
I pray God opens the door to your heart. Amen.
Rev. Robin Mathews-Johnson has been the pastor of Watsonville First United Methodist Church since the last century. Weekly Online Gatherings are linked to their website: watsonville1stumc.org. Contact her at (831) 724-4434, or [email protected].