Who’s that knocking on the door: who’s that ringing on the bell?
Did you ever live in fear of the Sheriff coming to your door. That’s not a nice place to be. If he was coming, you would know he was coming. If that was the case that was quite literally a dreadful place to be. Filled with dread. Every day. Before the Sheriff arrives there will have been a number of steps taken. Warnings, demands and even final demands. At some point you will receive information regarding the powers of the Sheriff including that he is enabled to enter your premises by force if necessary. If you have never lived in this world thank God and let us pray that you never do. If you do live in this world please be assured of the prayer of the faith community of St. Matthew.
Ssh! Ssh! Quick! Maybe it’s the guards? Do you run? Can you? Where would you run to? Is there anyone you could run to?
Have you waited for or watched out for the doctor or the nurse? Did you need medicine? Were you in pain? With the pain, was there fear? Would you recover? Would you be ok again? Being ill often brings with it a dependency and at times an isolation. When we are sick our world shrinks. Whilst it can sound trite it is important at these times to remember the value of prayer. To pray for all who are ill in mind, body or soul is surely a basic duty of the Christian. For all of us who are well and enjoying this day it is a good habit before bedtime to remember those who suffer, those in hospital, those undergoing treatment, those awaiting test results, and to ask the Lord to give them his healing touch.
Sometimes the knock on the door is very welcome. It’s our neighbour and friend. A variation on the knock on the door is a knock on the floor. Many years ago I lived in a house and when I heard three loud knocks on the ceiling I used to make a mad scramble and run upstairs as I knew this meant the Chinese had arrived.The food, not the people. Fillet of beef, black bean sauce and fried rice. This reminds me as I write, of the song,
Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me, turn out the light if the answer is no!
(I hope whatever about dancing round the kitchen you at least sang it out loud.)
Sometimes the knock on the door announces the arrival of the stranger. Is the stranger threat or opportunity? Is difference a challenge or an attraction? Could the stranger be Jesus?
Did you ever lie sick, frightened in the dead of night, genuinely believing that time was short and that you may not see morning? On this occasion did you start knocking the pipe of the radiator with your keys, or a spanner. Knocking in quiet desperation hoping someone would hear. Was this knocking life or death? Or at least did it appear that way to you?
‘From my records I have reason to believe you have no tv license.’
We should not forget those who do not knock. There are two extremes here: those who do not knock because they lack respect, they come unannounced and they come with violent intent. They are the paramilitaries and sometimes the unbridled corrupt forces of a state gone awry. Of course the experience of those who do not knock can be lovely. Sometimes those who do not knock are very welcome. They are welcome and they know they are welcome. They are family. Family in the broadest sense. Family in the sense of a safe place, a place we belong, are accepted, are loved. In family we learn about life, we learn what matters. In family we learn about God, about others and about ourselves. In family we grow and develop into the beautiful person God wants us to be.
‘My heart goes boom bang a bang boom bang a bang when you are near!’
Just a silly song or a reminder of a knocking or a thumping in the heart. Pulse goes faster. Eyes light up. We have a spring in our step. We are loved. We love.
All the knocking we have described has a context and will surely be heard to various degrees. However these rumblings would be incomplete if we did not at least allude to the knocking of the Lord. The Lord taps. The Lord taps gently on the door of our heart. The Lord is not a gatecrasher. True faith is rooted in invitation not obligation. In fact the tapping of the Lord is heard throughout our lives. Or is not heard. If we listen, deeply, the heart listening, we will hear. Our listening is developed and honed by need, sometimes by pain. Our choice is to open the door and let the Lord in. The great moment is when we respond generously in love to the gentle tapping of love by the Lord and open the door of our hearts and greet him with, ‘yes Lord, you are welcome!’