Come On to My House, Come On…

Window and doors. If you want to build and live in a better spiritual house, you’ll need good windows and doors. A way to look out and see. A way to get out and serve. Oh, we’ve been thinking and praying about our spiritual house, our own and our church’s for a couple of weeks. We’ve said a good name is a good place to start. There’s no better name than Jesus. So, take the name of Jesus with you. Make his name yours. And live so he’s glad to make your name his. A good foundation’s essential. So build your house on worship and praise. BUT, please don’t forget the windows and doors! They’re the ins-and-outs of our spiritual house.

Windows: the means to look out of your soul and onto your world. Jesus has a certain kind of window in mind for us. He tells a story to help us see. A rich guy and a poor guy die. Poor Lazarus: to heaven. The rich guy: to well…. Ole Reggie Rich complains he’s hot, burning’, and parched. ‘Asks Father Abraham to send down Lazarus with relief. Abraham answers. “I don’t think so. Reggie, don’t you remember when poor ole Lazarus used to lie right outside your front gate? You wouldn’t even give him the crumbs off your table! The guy was filled with sores you didn’t even see and at which you wouldn’t even look. The dogs used to come and lick his sores! (Ich!) Well, you used to be up, Lazarus down. Now God has turned things upside down for you. And the ditch God’s dug between heaven and hell is so deep and wide, nobody can cross!” Whoa! DO get this. Reggie Rich built a McMansion in the best neighborhood in the county. But without soul-windows! He never saw the suffering at his own front gate. ‘Didn’t see. ‘Maybe, wouldn’t look. I’ve read this story 50 years, and didn’t see this until 8 weeks ago. I’ve always considered the doggy-deal in this story pretty gross. Who needs it? Answer: we do! So often we don’t or won’t see in a way even our pet pooch can and does. In Christ’s parable, the mutt shows more compassion than the man! The sin of Lazarus: not that he is rich, but that there is no window in his soul! He never sees Lazarus as a person and a child of God!

It’s still true. A more recent story. French philosopher Emmanuel Levinus writes of his time in a Nazi Concentration camp. “They stripped us of our human skin. We were no longer a part of the world. 1/2 way through a dog wandered into camp. We called him Bobby. He waited for us to come back to barracks from work. Wagged at us. Lay by us when we were ill. 'Licked us with joy, just to see us. Because for him there was no doubt we were still human, alive, mattered, we remained alive, human, knew we mattered!” (Paraphrase) Bobby’s window was more open than camp’s.

You and I will need a goodly window if we want to build a better spiritual house for a better human life! We’ll need better, lest we repeat the sin of Lazarus and find ourselves in the same straits! Walk to the “O’s”/Raven’s/Skin’s games. Pass the “Homeless, need work, please help” folks crumpled on the walk. (Often refusing to look up.) Do you see? What do you see, feel, do? Events among us have me seeing/hearing/feeling differently at the pix of perpetrators on the evening news. There’s more humanity in them than I have seen before. Besides, Christ died for them, just as for me! (For you.) Whatever else Camp Hope and Group work camps do for our young and not-so-young, they open our eyes, build windows for our souls. Every volunteer mission from our back yard to the Bayous of Katrina’s Catastrophe does the same. And this week, you and I, personally will pass somebody who needs first, just to be seen, then cared for, in Jesus’ name.

Doors! Don’t forget doors while building a spiritual house. Not as a church. Not as a person… of faith! Doors aren’t just the way we let the world, from loved ones to strangers, into our lives and into our hearts. They’re how we get out and about and doing as Christ has taught. For God’s sake, Christ’s sake and our own, may our spiritual house have as many doors as possible! Oh, the Jesus book tells another story. This time it’s Paul talking. You know, the guy who used to chase down Christians who ends up raising up believers like nobody else. ‘Paul, the jailed guy who wrote/inspired most of the NT! ‘Paul who, with his helpers, didn’t believe the church could cross over into Asia. Paul’s the guy who has this dream. In it, “a man of Macedonia was standing beseeching Paul and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ And when he had seen the vision, immediately he and the others sought to go!”

For a while now, the UMC has advertised Open Hearts/ Minds/Doors.

Suppose we use open to say what we do, not who we are. Now our openness is not an adjective about ourselves, but verb, an action-word for others in Jesus’ name. I mean, how can/do we open the Good News of Christ to others? How do we answer when we see the vision and hear the voice that says, “Come on over. Come on to my house, come on, come on, I want to good News and blessing.” I think of a special young soul in the County Detention Ctr. today… and hundreds like him, elsewhere. “Come on over. Come on to my house, come on, come on,” shouts fire victim and the flood victim in the news. Our neighbors who never make the news, they just empty our CAP shelves. “Can you open a door?” they ask. ‘To a job, a stable family, a faith that saves. “Come on to my house, come on, come on,” call the folks we serve through Camp Hope and Group work camps. “Can you open a door?” asks my friend from Chautauqua, a native of Khabarovsk. For years in the Gulag, to avoid its tortures, he had Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin tattooed to his chest as a kind of intimate insurance policy against beatings. When let go, he wept when 1st called by name. No one had said it in 10 years! “Come on to my house, come on, come on,” he cried. But he learned God-in-Christ had whispered his name in heaven, every night before bed, to protect him. Now, he opens his shirt, not to show his tattoo, but his cross! And then there’s a Jim Gurley story, back from Zimbabwe. He saw the vision, heard the word. “Come on over!” He did. Three native women he worked with and missed, return. “Where’ve you been?” he asks. “The City. Harare. The dump, for ‘usuable items.’” Get this, the dump’s their Wal-Mart One woman turns, lifts, looks back at Jim and extends a bundle. “See what we found?” A baby! A healthy little girl baby, just thrown on the dump! I almost lost it when he told me. All I could think of was this. We crucified God’s own little baby boy on a burning dump 2000 years ago. We left him for dead. We’re still at it with one of God’s daughters. When will we see by the windows of our souls? ‘And open our doors like those women, and open a new life to the cast off, forgotten, abused and dispossessed? When will we hear the call to, “Come on over,” and do it? Surely this is our mission. This is the glory of wide open windows in spiritual houses with wide open doors.

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