Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Truth As Far As I Can Tell... Openness

Matthew 27:51 – At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 

In ancient Jerusalem, the High Priest was the only person who could approach God in the holiest place of the Temple.  A curtain kept everyone else out.  However, Jesus granted full access to God’s presence to anyone who wants it when he died on the cross for our sins.  At his death, an earthquake split the Temple curtain completely in two.  Now everyone may come into God’s presence through Jesus Christ.

We changed the code to the church door recently.  Please call the church office if you need it.  Does anyone remember when we started locking church doors?  It must have been before I was born in 1974.  Doors have been locked for as long as I can remember.  I have talked to some older church members who remember times when church doors weren’t locked.  People could come in whenever they wanted.  It’s kind of sad that those days are gone, isn’t it?  Today, we even keep the church doors locked when the office is open.  People have to ring a doorbell so the church secretary can check to see if it’s safe to let them in.  That’s the world we live in—a place where we need to keep our homes, our cars, and even our churches locked up tight.
I think some churches go too far though.  I was driving the other day and missed my turn.  I saw a church and decided to turn around in their parking lot, but I had to slam on the brakes as I turned in because they had a chain across the entrance.  I almost hit the chain with my car!  There were two entrances to that church parking lot and both were chained off!  I guess they really don’t want people in their parking lot!  Now what does it say to people that you chain off the parking lot of your church? (And no, I checked and that church was not out of business.) 
We try to strike a good balance at Pleasant Grove UMC.  We recognize the unfortunate necessity of keeping our doors locked, but we also wish to be as accessible as possible.  Our code lock is a good compromise.  The code lock helps us to keep the building secure and also allows us to grant access to trusted people.  Furthermore, we can change the code from time to time just in case the code may have gotten into the wrong hands. 
Now, we are never going to be as secure as a bank and I don’t think we should.  We’re not a bank.  We are a church.  Our goal is to be reasonably safe and secure, while still offering access.  Access is vital.  I mean come on, the slogan of the United Methodist Church is:  “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.”
Seriously, Pleasant Grove is not some exclusive place where only a few families or a small group of leaders have access.  Everyone is welcome.  Everyone is encouraged to participate.  Everyone is invited to come.  While we will do our best to keep our facility secure, we must also insist on an attitude of openness.  PGUMC is for everyone, just as Jesus is for everyone.  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell… 

Remember, God loves you and so do I!