April 16, 2023. Locked Doors

Today’s Gospel Story takes place later on in the day of Easter. Jesus’ disciples had locked themselves up in a room together because they were afraid of what might happen to them. They had heard about some people seeing Jesus after he had been buried following his death on the cross, and weren’t sure what to make of it all, and they were pretty scared.  Suddenly, locked doors or not, Jesus was with them. The first thing he says is “Peace be with you”. . In fact, he says this twice. Could this Story be saying anything to me in my life these days?

This morning, thanks to Echo, I listened to a fairly eclectic music mix with my espressi while reading John’s Gospel Story — Celine Dion “Hallelujah”, Whitney Houston “I Will Always Love You” and “One Moment in Time”, Lady Gaga “Til It Happens to You”. Somehow, in the light of the Gospel Story, it all came together and made sense, and probably is going to be with me all today.

Our experience or encounter with God is always personal, but it is never private. In the Story Jesus says to the terrified disciples, “You have God’s peace and Spirit in you, now go and live it with the people in your life”. But, do I want to hear this sort of thing? Am I so wrapped up in my ideas about God that I am afraid to recognize God in any other ways, or any other people? I have my own causes that I work with and support, how am I towards others who don’t agree? Are my doors locked against anything new or that I don’t understand? Am I really willing to recognize God’s Presence in people I don’t like? Can I accept being disagreed with? Have I created my own God to make me feel good about myself, safe, and in control. I don’t want to disturb this little island I’ve built for myself, so I hide behind locked doors, feeling smugly confident that I know something others don’t, and I’m good with that. Really impressed with myself and my locked doors.

And then Jesus busts in to remind me I don’t know as much as I think I do. He reminds me God’s Spirit and peace are in me, and tells me my responsibility is to live with others in such a way that they might realize God’s Spirit and peace are in them too, equally and uniquely, since each of us reflects God’s Spirit and Presence in ways no one else can.

Jesus further tells me to learn to forgive, and be forgiven, to be aware of the harm I cause others, and myself, when I expect them to follow my experience of God, to let people be who they are, and pray that somehow I may be able to live God’s love with them.

Our experience of God is personal. We don’t understand this til we see it happening to us, and we might be be afraid. Jesus shows us God who is in us always and in everything, not just distant in someplace “out there”. Salvation is not a private affair between God and me. It involves everyone else in my life, and all creation, as we grow together toward the fullness for which we are created. 

Jesus spent his public life showing us how to live with each other in ways that lead us, when we let them, to be aware of God’s Spirit or Presence in us and in everybody. When we are used to God being “out there somewhere” coming to know God present and acting in us can be a bit scary. Jesus’ Parables and teachings were about recognizing God in our own life here and now, and helping us to live in such a way that the kingdom of God happens. 

When we pray “thy will be done”, we are not just passively and resignedly accepting whatever comes to us. We are saying that we want to work together with God’s Spirit and Presence in us in such a way that we are helping each other to live God’s kingdom here and now in our everyday life. We are learning God’s will is not a plan we have to follow, but a relationship we work out with God as we make our choices throughout our life. As we become aware of God’s Presence and Spirit in us and in all, the values we use to make our choices change, and so we grow, and come to realize we don’t need those locked doors.  Just sayin .  .  .