When I arrived at First Church, I noticed a sign on the inside of the “front” door – the original main entrance to the church, before the parking lot was added, and people started using the “back” entrance as the main door of the church. The sign said, “Do Not Open This Door.” Not even “please leave this door closed.” Do. Not. Open. This. Door.
I preached about it. I asked the congregation to consider the implications of that sign. What did it say, not only to the community on the other side of the door, but to us on the inside? I mentioned it in Trustee meetings and Council meetings. It’s been a year and a half, and last Sunday, I asked if we could open the door for Palm Sunday and Easter, as a sign of radical hospitality to the many people who drive past our church on Sunday mornings. The chair of the Trustees said, “Yes.”
This morning, before anyone else arrived at church, I opened the door. It doesn’t have a key anymore, just a crash bar that has to be locked open or closed with an Allen wrench.
There’s an Allen wrench, just the right size, in my desk. I always wondered what it was for.
But before I could use the wrench, I had to get my toolbox out, and find a screwdriver to remove the three-inch screws from a block of wood that had been wedged under the crash bar, then fastened to the door.
Once I got the door opened, and located a rubber doorstop to hold it open, I found a broom, and swept down the cobwebs that had collected in the formerly dark entryway. Then I swept the sidewalk in front of the door, and turned on the lights, so it looked like someone was home.
And people came to church.
Not in droves, and I don’t think anyone used the old front door. But they saw it as they pulled around the corner to head into the parking lot. And it looked good, a few people said. It looked good to have the door open again. It was a fitting start to Holy Week.
I didn’t preach this morning. This is one of those Sundays when the scripture preaches itself. We read the passion story from Mark’s Gospel, interspersed with hymns and songs. We ended the service singing “Were You There” unaccompanied, and I told the congregation there would be no benediction, no three-fold ‘Amen,’ no postlude – because the service doesn’t end here.
It continues through the coming week, and we are invited to find our place in the story, to gather for worship on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, to observe a quiet Holy Saturday, in preparation for the great “Amen” (and that other “A” word we finally get to say) on Easter morning.
Maybe you’d like to find your place in the story. Here are some scripture passages, a psalm and a gospel reading for each day of Holy Week, to help you do just that. The screws and the cobwebs have been removed. The door is open. You are invited into Holy Week.
Monday – Psalm 36:5-11; John 12:1-11
Tuesday – Psalm 71:1-14; John 12:20-36
Wednesday – Psalm 70; John 13:21-32
Thursday – Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; John 13:1-17. 31b-35
Friday – Psalm 22; John 18:1-19:42
Saturday – Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16; Matthew 27:57-66