My Dear Friends, December 2020
It hasn’t been the easiest year, but let’s remember and thank God for two major building projects completed in 2020. In March, the week after we shut the doors on normal church operations due to Covid, the organ repairers finished their multi-week renovations. And this week (D.V.) the front and middle doors have been replaced and hung, and the long punch list to finish the project will have been checked off.
So for those keeping track at home, toward the start of the year the old doors were closed…and now at the end of the year we’re opening the new doors! Hallelujah!
Especially from the outside, just looking at our new doors one doesn’t notice that much of a difference, except everything seems a little more ship-shape, not as tired. But then go to open them and you’ll be struck by how substantial they are and how smoothly they swing on their hinges. A big improvement, actually. Sure, they’re just new doors, but they give off the impression that, with their arrival, 23 Chapel has taken a large forward step. We congratulate and are thankful to Sten Havumaki, the craftsman who fabricated and installed the doors.
Exterior doors are a very minor piece of a building’s entire structure, but their relatively small size belies their importance. I’ve walked around a lot of Newton, and I’m sure you’ll agree that the city possesses some beautiful houses. But occasionally, one comes across this kind of disappointment: a beautifully proportioned house with elegant, tasteful landscaping that’s spoiled by an ugly or tawdry or wimpy door. What were the builders or owners thinking? When you’re deciding on the focal point of the house it’s not the time to suddenly lose your architectural vision or go cheap. Doors – their existence, their function, their look – are quite important.
Doors have a way of occupying a chief position in our consciousness and recollections. Consider movies: Can you envision the gates leading into Jurassic Park? (Thought so.) Ok, then, how about the walls around the park? (Didn’t think so.) When I think of the Shire of Middle Earth, my mind goes straightaway to those cozy circular doors built into the earth through which you’d enter a hobbit’s home. Or how about the Wardrobe in the attic, the doorway into the land of Narnia?
And in real life, when you’re driving from the home you’ve just visited, your last real look isn’t toward the roof or arbor leading to the back yard or anything else… but to the door. And often you’ll see, silhouetted in the threshold of that door, your host waving goodbye… Goodbye, goodbye. And then as you pass the door she turns away into the house, perhaps sighing to herself, Well, that wasn’t so bad.
The Scriptures confirm our sense that doors have an outsized importance; indeed, they’re significant enough to function reliably as symbols and metaphors. Probably the most familiar metaphorical use of doors is to connote opportunity. A few times Paul speaks of “open doors” for ministry. On the other hand, in Jesus’ parables of the ten virgins, the door that closes on five of them implies that their opportunity has run out.
I recall that Mrs. Viall, EBC’s founding pastor’s wife, used to insist that the gate to 23 Chapel be left open. By that open door, she wanted to portray to the public that, no matter how dismal their situation had become, God offers hope for change: changed marriages, changed thoughts, changed offspring…opportunity of salvation! May the arrival of these new doors be accompanied by God opening new opportunities for ministry.
In the Scriptures, doors also speak of impending change. “The Judge is standing at the door,” James writes, speaking of Jesus’ approach toward the Church. The door is about to swing open, and the Lord will come through, and then who knows what things will happen then?! Yes, the door opens, and sometimes Blessing walks through. Many of us remember the first time we grasped the handle and entered through the old doors of 23 Chapel, and truly that passage has altered our life for good.
On the other hand, God tells Cain that “sin is crouching at the door,” ready to enter and wreak havoc. Good can come through the doors; so can evil. Doors remind us to be both eagerly watchful for new positive developments and unceasingly vigilant against threats. May God send through these new doors new blessings while also shutting evil out.
I could go on with “Scriptures and Doors” for a long while. But I’ll conclude with this prayer:
Our Father in Heaven,
We thank you for new doors.
May your name be hallowed in our church, corporately and privately. As we recited on Sunday, may we “open wide our doors” to the King of Glory.
May your kingdom come. May many of our family and friends enter your household through Jesus Christ, the Door to eternal life.
May your will be done. Especially, grant to your church the heart to regularly find some seclusion, to “shut the door” to the noise of the world, and pray in secret to our Father who is in heaven.
Give us our daily bread. Bless the passages of our lives: our going forth and our coming in.
Forgive us our trespasses. Lord Jesus, forgive us when you stand and knock on the doors of our heart, in order to come in and fellowship, and we be too disheartened to open the door to you.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us: Open a door for us, that no man can shut.