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Why We Open the Doors

On Ash Wednesday of 2017, I waited in the sanctuary of the un-remodeled 8th Street Methodist Church. As the light burst into the room from the 110-year-old stain glass windows, I realized I was in sacred space. In that space, worship services were held, babies were baptized, brides were given away, vows were taken, communion was received, songs were sung, the poor were cared for, and the rich were saved.

 

In his book, Oklahoma City’s Midtown: Images of America, historian Bradley Wynn said as the church could been seen from the window of the neighboring St. Anthony Hospital, it provided hope to those who were in desperate situations. Ms. Elliot, a nurse at St. Anthony said, “Any time there was a difficult moment in surgery or when they could not save someone’s life, she would look through the window of the surgery room where she could see the steeple, perfectly framed with the cross on top, and she would pray. ‘It was so beautiful and perfectly placed there in the window. It was like a piece of heaven on earth.’”[1]

 

However, for the last number of years, the doors of this historic building, which had provided hope to so many, have been closed. Fastened shut by screws and bolts, some thought they were locked for eternity. In that moment, I realized opening the door for the first time was symbolic. Something new was happening where there was once only death. So, I immediately wrote my thoughts and the reasons why we again Open the Door.

We open the door so that our Lord might be glorified.
We open the door so others can hear something good.
We open the door so that the room can be filled with laughter and praise –

Hospitable conversations, mercy, peace, grace, and love.

 

We open the door so that people can have a place to raise their children.
We open the door so that people can be joined in marriage.
We open the door so that new life can happen in baptism.
We open the door so that people's lives can be celebrated –

And friends and family can grieve when we close the casket.

 

We open the door because all need a place to gather.
We open the door so that people can sing.
We open the door so they might have a place to lament.
We open the door so that people may live well…
We open the door so that they may die just the same.
We open the door because we need something sacred;

Here it is safety, inclusion, healing, and transformation.

 

We open the door because Christ knocks at it.
We open the door to remember who we are.
We open the door because life is better when we’re with our neighbors.
We open the door so that no one is alone.
We open the door because the truth of the matter is this:

There was a time when we were rejected, left out in the cold, on our own.
We open the door so that no one feels that way.

 

We open the door because the door has been open to us.
We open the door because holiness is seen in neighborliness.
We open the door to those in need:

In need of a family, in need of a friend, in need of a home.

 

We open the door, so that people can come, drop off their shame, and walk out of here without it.

 

We open the door to minister, and to minister well.

 

Last week, I received a text message from my friend Benji, who was at St. Anthony hospital to undergo a series of tests to determine if he carried the genetic disease that took the life of his mother. He said, “During my hours in front of a window, I was inspired by my view of your church in the distance. Your ministry (and ours!) has and will continue to span boundaries and touch lives that you will never know were inspired by your presence. I am honored to be counted among you.”

 

I am honored, Benji.

 

This, my friends, is why we open the door.

 

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

Amen and Amen.

 

[1] Wynn, Bradley. Oklahoma City’s Midtown: Images of America. 117.