Sermon – December 1, 2002 – The Door

December 1, 2002

The Door

Advent 1

Ann and I have been working on our house since the day we moved in, it
seems. We’re getting close to accomplishing ‘the list’ of things we
just had to get done. What remains, mostly, are the doors. Doors to
paint, doors to strip, doors to hang properly. I walk around those doors
and eye them warily. I am in no hurry to attend to them because I have
a little post-traumatic stress when it comes to doors. You see, once
when I was in Texas, I decided to hang a new screen door on the back
porch. Now, a normal person could have hung that screen door in a day
and gone fishing. I started on Monday and declared it good enough on
Friday. Everything that could go wrong did. When I tore off the old
door frame, I broke the stuff I didn’t want to remove and had to replace
that. My miters weren’t good, so I had to recut them. The siding
flares out below the door so the door didn’t hang properly. As I ground
down the siding in an attempt to make the door fit, my drill burned out.
It was a jinxed project. Needless to say, it caused me to
get up on the wrong side of bed in a couple of occasions. Because what
was to be a journey of progress and accomplishment and a pleasure,
turned out to be a frustration and a chore. By getting caught up in all
the unexpected events of that project, I lost the joy of the journey.
Hanging that door became an angry urgency, rather than a pleasure. I
had lost my joy of the journey. And that door haunts me still.

We begin today in our church year, in our scripture readings and in our
personal lives, our journey toward Christmas Eve. This is the first
Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the new year when we anticipate again
the coming of Christ in the manger and in the fulfillment of time.
Our scripture readings tell us to prepare, that the Lord is coming. We
heard from the Gospel of Mark today, be alert, be awake, be prepared.
That is a call to be attentive on the journey. It was intended and can
be read as something of a warning, first of all, that in this time of
waiting and anticipation, there will be plenty of opportunities to stray
on the journey, to be caught up in the impatience and the frustration
and the unknowing as we wait for Christ. To be alert and to be awake
and to be watchful in this time is to be informed that there will be
much to lead us off the path. Part of that may be, be careful that you
don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. It may mean
watch out for those students who thinking cheating is the way to get
good grades. Watch out for those teenagers who think that drinking and
drugs and sex are the only ways to have a good time. Watch out for
those adults whose jokes and language betray a disrespect for others and
for God. Watch out for the worldly attitude that is only concerned
about me and what’s mine. Watch out, be alert. Don’t be deceived by the
world’s empty promises. These words of Mark this morning are words of
fair warning that this journey of faith will not be without its
distractions.

An example can be found in our preparations for Christmas. Already in
the news, we hear of the number of people flocking to the stores or the
malls, or shopping over the Internet. Preparing for Christmas. The
journey has begun in earnest, complete with the overextended credit
cards, and the rush, and the traffic jams, and the anxiety about which is
the proper gift, or frustration with the inability to find the gift you
finally decided to buy. Bound up in this marvelous wonderful journey
toward the manger, toward the star over Bethlehem, toward the
fulfillment of the ancient promises of God that a branch would spring up out of
the root of Jesse, towards the coming of God in flesh, . . . . bound up
in all of that and carrying more than its due weight is this
frustration and anxiousness and urgency.

Let’s try this season to get up on the right side of the bed and to
move with anticipation and not frustration, in hope and not anxiety,
toward this blessed night that is to come. And may it be a reminder of
all the good things to come. We can read the words of Jesus this
morning to “be alert, be watchful, be awake,” not only as warning, but as a
reminder of all the good things, for all the grace and hope and
excitement this season and this journey to Bethlehem brings. Because what we
anticipate is God’s great loving gift to a people who deserve much
less, but because we have been called his chosen ones, he has deferred our
shortcomings and sees us only as his children. And in order to affirm
that relationship for all time, beyond doubt, for God’s good purpose,
he sends us His Son wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Let that be our journey this Advent; to walk in the understanding and
the awe and the wonder, that the journey towards Bethlehem in these
days and our mutual journey of faith in our days is a journey of hope and
thanksgiving, of celebration and triumph and grace.

May all these moments between now and then be reminders that all good
things are caught up in this journey—the beginning of our redemption,
the fulfillment of God’s promises, celebrated by the giving of gifts to
remind us of the gift of Christ as we share in the enthusiasm of the
Wise Men who presented gifts to our Lord; the preparations for holiday
dinners and Christmas programs and the coming of old friends and family
and the sharing of memories and the renewing of acquaintances. . . may
all these remind us of the good things. They are the journey.

And this; time to remember, to be watchful, to be awake, to be alert to
what brings us together, what holds us together, what has brought us
here, and carries along in this journey, and why.

It’s like these stupid doors, which really represent for me all good
things . . . that I would have the means to replace them, that I would
have a wonderful friends and advisers who help me prevent the
lacerations and abrasions and amputations that occur when a rookie handles a
power tool, that this door enters into a house that I share with my
unexpected wife and my beautiful daughter, in a place where I was called
through faith to a loving community, where I have shelter and companionship
and pleasure and good work and a home. This where these doors takes
me. That’s the journey that opens up behind them.

This Advent season, this new years, this time of hopeful waiting is the
door opening up to all good things. Let’s let this time . . . be
a journey of remembrance of thanksgiving and anticipation and hope, as we
await with earnestness, and watch with excitement and stay alert for
the presence of Christ in all good things. May we go through this
door, enter into this season, in hopeful waiting for the next good thing
heralded by the coming of Christ into the world.

Amen

Copyright (c) 2002 by Pastor Robert J. Rasmus