God’s Doors Are Open: Come as You Are
(Posted June 22, 2023)
“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow firm there, firm as weeds among stones.” -- Charlotte Bronte, English Novelist and Poet
A couple of years ago during Spring planting time, I learned a painful lesson. In the quest to put in an affordable Spring garden, I had bought a few more inexpensive plants to put in our rail planters. Now usually I wear garden gloves, but this box was the last one I was going to plant, so I just unpotted, bare-handed, the pretty plant from the plastic holder and had a hole ready to receive it. It was just one plant, so what could possibly go wrong?
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Almost instantaneously, I had searing pain in my right hand, the one that had pulled out what I thought was the flower. What I didn’t see was the stinging nettle potted alongside the flower that had seared its irritant into my hand and fingers. Its “venom” would leave my entire hand throbbing for nearly four days.
Life these days is a lot like learning the lesson that not everything that looks lovely is safe to latch onto.
Amid the “flowers” we encounter, there is the occasional weed. Weeds deserve to live too, but some aggressive weeds are hellbent on injecting their toxins into people who get too close.
Tribalism Closes Doors
I used to think that our American culture was getting smarter and more knowledgeable with every passing week, that we were getting away from our tribalism where we identify anyone who is not from our tribe as a threat to our “own people.” But not so, especially these last few fear-filled years.
While there is a real movement to accept people who are different from our particular tribe, that seems to drive the people crazy who can’t make the transition to understanding. They start even more desperate displays of anxiety, even violence. We peer out our doors at a culture at war with itself, one that used to embrace the attributes of the Jesus of love, acceptance and willingness to make the wanderer feel welcome. And now those Jesus attributes are sneeringly referred to as “Woke.”
Its as if some toxin has rubbed off on the public, and they are “damn irritated” about everything: gender; race; immigrants; the status of women to lead; the way people celebrate the end of a scourge like slavery; the right for people to belong to a different party; the right to have a religious belief or none at all.
Open Doors That Welcome and Accept
People need a safe place where they can gather: Where they are not only welcome but where the people inside don’t expect them to change to be like everybody else when they come through the door. That’s the way we try to keep our own doors: Open to all, even to the ones who are condemned as weeds by others.
Here at First Congregational Church, it’s “come as you are, and leave happier for it.” It’s God’s House, and the doors are open to all.
Join us this Sunday, or when you get a chance to come inside.