One of my pet phrases to say to visitors who express a desire to return is, “The doors will be open!” I want anyone who walks through our doors to know that they are open for everyone. When we keep the doors of the sanctuary open for all we are proclaiming to the world that in this place there is no concern over income, status or respectability. In this congregation, everyone who walks through the doors is given a place to sit.
Joan Puls writes, “The amazing truth of the kingdom is its availability. The kingdom is not for buying. It is not exclusive. It can’t be hoarded. It succumbs, not to power, not to birthright, not even to the magnitude and sparkle of one’s achievements…It requires one possession, freedom. The freedom to recognize kingdom-events and follow a kingdom-course.”
Her words remind us that the kingdom of God is for everyone. Everyone who chooses to live in the kingdom of God is welcome to live there.
Puls also writes that “true freedom, as true love, rids us of fear. In the economics of the kingdom, faith is sufficient.” The flip side of that, though, is that sometimes fear is more comfortable. Sometimes we choose fear over freedom because fear allows us to define ourselves as victims.
The world around us is shrinking. There is news of potential economic collapse. Terrorism is and perhaps will be for a very long time, an ongoing worry for us. Fear is an easy choice. Fear will say beware of the stranger, the outsider, the other. Fear will look at other religions and see danger.
This is where the church can be a beacon of hope and ray of light. By choosing to follow Christ, by listening to the voice of love, by opening our doors as wide as possible to the world, we can remind everyone that encounters us that we have left fear behind. We can become a place where hope lives and grace grows.
In a world that is desperate for good news we must find the strength, the courage and most of all, the freedom to proclaim God’s love for all.
Grace and Peace to you,