DOORS LOCKED OPEN
A Memory from a Christmas Past
My teeth chattered as I stood there waiting, and I felt so tired that all I could think of was bed. Maybe I even felt a little angry that Dick had to be so responsible that he felt called to take one last look before leaving for the night. It didn’t hit me then, as it does now, that God was somehow in this picture.
It was Christmas morning, about 12:45. Everyone else had left after the late Christmas Eve service, except Roy, Linda and Bar, who were tending to the details of securing the facility. When what to our wondering eyes should appear, but a front sanctuary door that was locked: LOCKED OPEN! There was no way that this door was about to close. It wasn’t just unlocked, but it was locked into swing-wide-the-doors-and-let-the-world-in-position. That was what Dick went back to check on.
Roy, Linda, and Bar must have been just as tired and cold as we were, and they didn’t have the foggiest idea of how to unfreeze the door hinges and get them to let the doors swing closed so they could go home for their winter night’s sleep.
Amazingly, after Dick and I left, these three mechanical geniuses figured a way to dismantle the door enough to get it shut. We don’t know if it will ever open again. I hope so.
This is where I think that God comes in. For on the night when there was no room in this inn, or that inn, or any other inn, and Mary and Joseph had to give birth in the cold and tired of the stable, our church door was frozen open.
Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if it had been open that night to Mary and Joseph after all the worshippers had gone home? Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if Jesus could have had a beautiful church to be born into? Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to be able to offer them the warmth and glowing candlelight that we all experienced? the gentle friendships? the open hearts? the sense of haven from the press and pull of crowds? Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if during the time our door was frozen open that Mary and Joseph had just happened to have been passing by?
Well, they were, and they are. The door has been fixed, but the holy family still comes, and many doors are open.
- They came as Butterscotch, a little lost cat, whom our office staff tended with care, spayed and discovered has feline AIDS, and has now become a part of one of our church families to “love as long as she lives.”
- The holy family came as a family who had no money for medical bills or shelter and received help from us.
- They will come as the men of the Rotating Shelter, who will sleep and eat and care for their needs within the protection of our church walls.
- They will come as people who are new to the United States and need food and friendship, as those who are gay and lesbian and transgendered, whom we do and will welcome even more fully, and who will enrich us all.
- They come as people with physical disabilities, with mental and emotional struggles.
- They come as alcoholics, as Brown Baggers, as Boy Scouts, and beggars.
- The holy family comes to our church every day.
I am so grateful to be a church with its doors locked open. I hope I will never again be too cold, too tired, or too impatient to celebrate what this means.