by Marilyn Ehle
We attend a downtown church that has been in place 140 years. We have wonderful programs for the people of the “church family,” as well as many activities for all segments of the community. Children eagerly run in on Tuesday evenings to meet with their tutors who have prepared specific lessons for their academic growth. On Thursdays and Fridays young moms with infants in arms and toddlers in hand come for mornings of fun, practical advice and spiritual encouragements while their children are lovingly cared for. Each weekend a variety of worship services are offered.
While the church now owns several buildings fit for almost any use, faithful people sacrificially erected the current “sanctuary building” in the late 1800’s. But years later a growing congregation sacrificed in another way. When they realized that the space they loved was no longer sufficient for growth, they unanimously voted to “implode” the stone building with its beautiful steeple. When the new and larger building was complete, huge and beautiful oak doors led from the street into the sanctuary.
But today those same oak doors—designed for welcome—often become a barrier instead of an entrance. Street people with their backpacks and homeless teens roam the streets regularly pass those doors. One young girl said to a friendly parishioner when he invited her to come in, “Oh, I could never come through those doors. That building looks like it’s for good people.”
We are people committed to being faithful followers of Jesus. We extend ourselves to people of all backgrounds and stations of life. And yet there are those big oak doors. I wonder if there are “oak doors” in my life? Attitudes or actions that keep people at arm’s length from me? I don’t know if the oak doors will be—or need to be—removed in our church building, but I am responsible to make sure my heart’s doors remain open for conversation and relationship.
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