CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter
I was up late last night, because we went to a Carrie Newcomer concert. So I got up late this morning, too late to get ready to go to church, because it takes my surgically altered semi-colon a long time to get ready to go some place. But I’m going anyway, even though it’s risky, because I need to “enter his gates with praise,” and because my church has open doors, to the restroom as well as to the sanctuary.
Carrie said that when she tells people she’s a Hoosier, it opens doors. The banjo player questioned, because banjo players are like that, if the doors that were opened to her when folks learned she was a Hoosier were so she could come in or so that she would leave. This obviously had not been rehearsed, and the usually unflappable Carrie was flapped. She had no answer. She is a Quaker, and assumes the best in people, and apparently had not considered that people might be opening the doors to her in both directions.
We went to the concert with folks who have been pleased, although a bit embarrassed at their pleasure, because a certain woman in their open-door church finally used the open church doors to leave.
There is almost always someone in a church who claims God speaks directly to them [Yes, I know, the singular “they” grates on me, too.] and so they know what the whole church must do, about anything and everything, even if everyone else in the church thinks differently. God finally got disgusted with her congregation’s refusal to acknowledge her direct line and told her leave. It appears that she is becoming Pentecostal, which is probably a good choice, because Pentecostals know how to handle folks like that better than Methodists do.
I think it was Lyle Schaller I heard say that at any given time, there are some folks who are just in the wrong church. If you are in the wrong church, it’s no sin to leave.
I once pastored a large church with open doors. It was in a town that had a large number of meat-grinder churches. When you walk through their doors, they put you through their grinder until you look and think exactly like everyone else. That works with some, but some get badly damaged in the grinding. That was when they came through our doors to find healing.
Sooner or later, though, they would rather shame-facedly say to me, “We appreciate so much that your doors were open when we were hurting. But your doors are too open. We are okay now, and we feel more comfortable in a church where the doors are not so wide, so we’re using the open doors to leave.”
That always hurt me, because we had become friends, and because it was a little bit hypocritical, and because pastors hate to “lose” people for our own selfish reasons, but it always pleased me, too. Doors are open to come in OR to go out.
This morning, I’ll use the open doors of our church to enter for healing for my distracted soul, and then I’ll use them to go out to “work for the night is coming.”
I tweet as yooper1721.