In an excellent little volume called This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids, one of the authors relates a story about a priest’s unexpected grace-filled response to a mother concerned about the faith implications of her teenager’s sexual orientation. The priest said, “I want you to know that God asks us to never close the door to anyone. Not our children, not our friends, not anyone. Always listen to your child. Always keep your door open to her.” The mother carried that thought with her as she came to accept God’s love for her gay daughter.
This morning my internet devotional was titled, “Leave the Door Open.” Writer May Sarton says, “We have to live as close as possible to all that leaves the door open to the ‘holy’” – the holy revealed in the mysteries of growth, birth, and death.
“Behold I stand at the door and knock … If anyone opens the door, I will come in.” Revelation 3:20 gives us a powerful visual for the possibility of God’s presence in our lives.
An open door is a potent symbol for us as Christians. An open door welcomes. An open door allows the holy nature of God to stream into our lives. An open door channels in the love that casts out fear.
I thought about this in light of the ways our Justice and Peacemaking Committee has begun to ask the congregation to extend an open door to education and programming about the concerns of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers. About immigrants. About racial equity and policing and race. About reaching toward understanding with our Muslim neighbors. About climate change. About economic and political justice for the hungry and the marginalized.
And I am deeply grateful for your support for open doors, even when they make us uncomfortable.
These ideas challenge us, some more than others. They challenge the faith in which I was raised, a faith that placed a deep, impassible divide between politics and religion. Woe to the preacher that stepped into that chasm!
Esteemed Presbyterian minister and pastor of Riverside Church William Sloan Coffin said in a sermon titled “Religion and Politics”: “Although they are often at sword’s points, religion and politics are fundamentally inseparable … Whatever they do in our minds, it is clear (from scripture) that in God’s mind religion and politics do mix; economics too. It is equally clear that God chooses sides, siding with those who suffer deprivation and oppression.”
But the challenge the God of the Bible and of the Gospel issues to our politics should never be confused with partisanship. Indeed, coming to understand the lordship of Christ over our political and economic convictions allows us to face squarely the problems with all political parties and economic systems. Self-interest is not a biblical virtue, and all of our human institutions are rife with self-interest.
As we explore opening various doors we appreciate your prayers and your feedback. We know not everyone will agree on matters of faith. We on the JP Committee believe in our purpose and its foundation in scripture and the PC(USA)’s Social Creed. But it is important to us that our fellow Christians feel they are being respected, heard, and loved for who they are when they encounter an idea that frightens or angers them or challenges their understanding of the world and God’s call to us.
We are on this faith journey together. Thank God for open doors!