The door to my childhood home wasn’t anything fancy.
You probably remember the old farm house we were raised in: big by many standards. Three bedrooms upstairs: my three dorky brothers in one, two sisters in another, and me in the unheated third. My parents had the bedroom downstairs with a “master bath” which meant the downstairs stool was in a closet-sized area in their room. There wasn’t anything “master-ish” about that area. The actual bathroom was upstairs…which clearly marks it in the pre-handicap accessible days.
There were three doors into the house. Nobody really used the front porch door, and unless coming directly from the car the garage door grew cobwebs. It was the door to the mudroom that most everyone used. This was the grand entry into the Herman household.
It wasn’t fancy. It was a storm door leading into the “mud room” for boots and some clutter. That let into a short five-foot hall to hang up various coats for eight people on heavy-laden hooks that mercifully didn’t pull out of the walls.
That door was important. If us kids were having a tousle or an argument, Mom would tell us to “take it outside…” on the other side of the door. If we were too noisy we’d be told the same. If we complained about being “bored” Mom would tell us to go outside (on the other side of the door) and find something to do. If we were in a foul mood we’d be told to “go outside (on the other side of the door) and come back in with a better attitude.” The statement, “Don’t come through that door with mud on your boots” was as familiar as the 23rd Psalm and Lord’s Prayer.
When we were teenagers and trying to get away with something we’d always want to be sure we had our stories straight before we walked through the door. If we were trying to hide something (not me, of course…my siblings!) we’d (or I should say, they) would take one last look at our best straight face in the reflection of the glass storm door. If we were coming in after curfew we would open the door slowly with the illusion that Mom and Dad wouldn’t notice what time we were getting in.
After my dad had his stroke my family was “on welfare,” but I always remember that for as little as we had the doors of my parent’s home were always welcoming. We were unique in our small farming area in that my dad got to know a number of African Americans from his civil rights days who would come to our house: a bit of a scandal to our little farming community of 300 people in the 60’s.
In thinking of all of this it struck me that doors, while they are meant to obviously keep unwanted things/people out, are just as powerful of a symbol on letting people in. Nobody was unwelcome to the doors of our home…not even the Fuller Brush salesman.
The doors of your church are a symbol of many things. Through the doors of the church people come to understand Jesus, hope, mercy, justice, kindness, compassion, and challenge. Through those doors we walk each week to remember who we are: your followers who want to sacrifice and change lives. While many doors in the world are meant to separate people, the doors of the Christian Church are meant to invite: which is why it’s always nice in the summer to worship with the doors open.
I just thought I’d let you know I was thinking of what a sign of welcome and hope the doors of our church are to people who struggle and search for meaning. It occurred to me how important it is for our congregation to always have open doors to your world.
Thanks for listening. I love you. Dan