If Doors Could Talk

Image result for knocking at the door image

 

In the little doorway between our kitchen and dining room we are making marks which capture a bit of the way in which time changes things.

Every so often we stand the kids up against the door jamb with their back flat to the frame and we make a short little pencil mark above their head and write their name out to the side of the mark. 

The lines we’re penciling-in there on the door jamb are slowly inching up the wall little by little, and later on in life, these marks will remind us of how our family has grown.

This doorway in our kitchen does talk – it tells the story of how time changes things.

 

There is a door that tells us how God changes things.

Early on the first day of the week, the disciples come to the tomb and find the door of the tomb where Jesus was buried standing open.  Peter and John run inside and see the folded graveclothes.  They believe!  And they run out to tell the news:  Jesus is alive!

This door to the tomb stands open in the garden where Mary weeps tears of bitterness until Jesus appears to her, speaks her name, and turns her tears of bitterness into tears of joy.

This door, a stone rolled away from a grave, speaks, and tells the story of God’s love which shines light into the darkness of death, and makes a way where there was no way.

 

When we pick up the story in today’s gospel reading, it’s the evening of the day of Jesus’ resurrection.  Earlier in the morning, Peter and John saw the empty tomb and Mary saw Jesus but now as night falls the disciples are in the house and the doors of the house are locked in fear.

But Jesus comes and stands among them and says, “Peace be with you.”

Just like the door to the tomb couldn’t keep Jesus in the grave, this door can’t keep Jesus from entering into the bunker of sadness and regret and disappointment where the disciples have quarantined themselves.  

Jesus comes through the door to bring Easter to them – He comes to bring the peace of God, the Holy Spirit, and the gift of forgiveness.

And the gift of forgiveness in this moment is poignant.

If these disciples had any regret about how they treated Jesus…  (We don’t know for sure exactly how they felt, but you almost have to imagine they did)…  If Peter had any guilt about having betrayed his friend – it’s all gone when Jesus appears to them. 

They see their forgiveness standing in front of them.  They see Jesus and they rejoice!

 

We weren’t there, of course.  We only hear this story.  But we can imagine the relief. 

 

And then there is Thomas.  Like us, he is not present the first-time Jesus appears to the group, and Thomas has the reaction that some of us may have had at some point in our lives to the news of Easter.

He just is not completely sure he can believe it.  He needs to see some evidence.

 

So, a week later Thomas is with the group when Jesus again passes through the door, again stands among them, again gives God’s peace, and this time, invites Thomas into this incredibly intimate moment: Jesus invites Thomas to touch the marks of the nails in his hands and asks Thomas to put his hand in his side. 

Having touched Jesus scars, having felt the warmth of his flesh, having been given encouragement from the familiar voice of his fried, Thomas cries: My Lord and My God!

Thomas believes.

Thomas opens the doors of his heart to Jesus.  Thomas doesn’t look through the peephole of his heart, or latch the little chain-thing they have in hotel rooms and open the door to Jesus part of the way.

Because he has seen convincing evidence, he throws open the door to his heart and lets Jesus come all the way in.

 

Jesus wants us to throw open the door to our heart and let him all the way into our life.

On Sundays, and on Mondays, and every day of the week.  At work, at school, at home; everywhere; all the time.

Jesus comes to us to give us evidence of his love: in bread and wine, in water, in forgiveness, in the community where we have the words, “Peace be with you” spoken to us as flesh touches flesh.

Here Jesus comes to us to renew our faith and send us out into the world to be witnesses and as evidence of his Spirit alive in the world.

 

There is a famous image of Jesus knocking at the door.  If you’ve never seen it you can google it.  Jesus stands in front of a door, his fist raised, ready to rap away.

For many people this is a powerful image of the way Jesus comes to knock at the door of our life, asking us to let him enter all the way into our heart – to take up residence in us – in our thoughts, our hopes, our inner monologue, our friendships and families and relationships.

 

Another way to think about this same image of Jesus knocking at the door is to think about the way in which Jesus knocks at the door of our life and invites us out into the world, where he already is. 

Jesus invites us out of the bunkers of fear we create for ourselves, out of the bunker of sadness and regret, out of the bunker of our own safety…Jesus invites us out into the world to be a people who tell of how we have been forgiven, and to grant forgiveness to people who wrong us, and tell about a God who mercifully offers forgiveness to all.

 

Thomas, who was slow to believe, Peter who betrayed him, and all the rest were invited out from behind the door of fear to be witnesses in the world of what they had seen.

They were called to be evidence of Jesus’ resurrection and they were.  These same fisherman, tax collectors, and peasants who were complete failures before Easter, after Easter took the message out in the power of the Spirit so that communities of faith sprung up in cities and towns and by the side of the road and today, when we confess our faith, we know that we do so with 2 billion other people on this earth.

 

And today we are still sent out to live as evidence of God’s presence in the world.  And let me tell you:

 

A young girl in our congregation was sitting at the lunch table with friends this past week when the group of friends started talking about what they had all done over spring break.  “What did you do?” someone asked.  “Well,” this young lady said, “We went to DC and because it was Easter we went to church.”

The other young girl said, “My family believes in God but we don’t have a church.”

And so this young girl from our congregation has made note of it and is wondering how she can invite her friend to church.

 

There is a woman in our congregation who talks about the Holy Spirit, openly, at work, to the team she leads.  A colleague on her team is an atheist and has started joking with her, “Are you gonna say that was the Holy Spirit again?” …but he gave this woman an angel as a gift which shows the respect he has for her and, I think, the importance of their relationship to him, and that kind of relationship of mutual respect is the kind of relationship where I believe the Spirit can work to create faith.

 

There is a man in our congregation who says that at work he tries to take what he heard or saw in worship the past Sunday and work it into conversation to see if he gets a nibble… so he can expand on it and tell people more.

 

But as you go about your life – in your service and work and study and friendships – you are a witness. Sometimes people might just look at the evidence in your life through a peephole, or they might keep the slidey-thing on their door hooked and just peek out a little bit…or sometimes the Spirit may blow the door open as it did on Easter morning.

As the Holy Spirit sends you out of these doors today, the forgiveness of the risen Christ and the peace which surpasses all understanding be with you, guide you, and strengthen you.

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In the Eye of the Storm

This is how we go through life:  Praying day after day for a family member and hoping for the gift of healing, bearing the broken relationships in our lives which we cannot or will not repair, carrying disappointments with ourselves and with others.

We carry all these things with us out into the world each day as we go about the work that makes up our vocation, our family life, and our civic responsibly, even as we’re aware of the larger world around us:

Hunger in own city and in far-away lands like South Sudan, military strikes in Syria because of chemical warfare perpetrated by that nation’s government, and we watch (perhaps feeling helpless) as our congress descends into greater and greater dysfunction.

Our whole world seems to be in a storm of chaos and then our own lives are often confusing and complicated, and more out-of-our-control than we like to think or admit to ourselves.

Throughout Holy Week, we will see and hear Jesus as he walks through a storm, which a gathering force.

This storm of confusion, chaos, and complication is churning all around Jesus as people’s conflicting desires and anxiety about his fate, their distrust and their fear and their carefully laid plans; their chance meetings, miscommunications, and fear meet the cries of celebration and tears of heartbreak.

And Jesus walks – the eye of the storm.  He is calm and at peace.

All around him there are the Temple priests, who in their jealousy, are looking for a way to kill this troublemaker.

There is Judas, who has grown tired of this Revolutionary who has shown his hand as a prince of peace, leaving Judas with no option but to try to get some kind of payout for his wasted years as his disciple.

Peter, for all his best intentions, promises to stand with his friend but when the time comes – he chokes.

The disciples sit around his table and watch as he breaks bread, but they will be paralyzed in fear when the soldiers come.

The Elders of the People and the council are complicit with the soldiers because they can’t or won’t understand Jesus’ claims.

Pontius Pilate knows the man brought to him is innocent, but he can’t be bothered by the inconvenience of standing up for justice because of the possible uprising if he did let Jesus go free.

There is Barabbas, who just happens to be in the right place at the right time, and in the midst of the scuffle, gets away with murder and slips out the back door into the crowd…

As the people who sang: “All Glory, Laud, and Honor to you redeemer King!”  And who cried out with praise prayers and anthems, change their minds, and yell: CRUCIFY!!

They will get their way.  And Jesus will carry his cross to Golgotha, with the help of Simon of Cyrene, who by happenstance is called to help – past women who weep for him, doubters and haters who heckle and shout insults, until he is nailed to the tree between two criminals who are crucified with him – one who heaps contempt on him and another who pleads with him – while below, soldiers mock him and gamble for his clothes.

Darkness falls, and the bitter day finally comes to a close, as we hear what sounds like even the Temple rending her clothing in heartbreak.

As we hear this story of our salvation this week, there will be a cacophony of voices and sounds: questions, accusations, and opposing claims; but the most confusing part is that the same voices that celebrated Jesus – our own voices – will call for the cross and for him to be crucified.

But Sisters and Brothers, keep your eyes on the One in the Eye of the Storm.  Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Look at his calm.  His steps are intentional and deliberate.  He trusts in his relationship with his Father, confident in his mission, which continues to be what it always has been – He points people to the truth, he forgives, he heals, and he reassures.

On his face, we see a quiet confidence and certainty. He is in control as he walks through the chaos, confusion, and complication churning all around him.

He walks on, showing us that he will bear the very worst that we as people can inflict on one another – suffering, betrayal, rejection, cruelty.

And he will give his life.  He has come for just one reason: to die for you and for me for the whole multitude of creation.

Listen.

Underneath all the sounds piling up, calling for Jesus’ destruction, Jesus’ own voice persists:

“This is my Body which is given for you…Father forgive them…today you will be with me…”

Listen to him, until finally he cries out with his last breath, in a loud voice, with his last words.

Jesus’ cry from the cross is God crying out to us to tell us he knows the weight we carry and more, and he knows the darkness of our darkest moments of despair.

Jesus’ cry from the cross is the voice of all the millions of people in this whole world who have suffered  – and who suffer today – of hunger, warfare, and sickness – it’s the cry of everyone who has ever felt forsaken by God, or life, or the world, or their loved ones, or themselves.

His cry from the cross is God calling us to be with those who suffer and to live in solidarity with those who are alone, hurting, or forgotten.

His cry from the cross is God saying to us: Remember.

Remember.

Remember.