Judy Collins – who has one of the purest voices I have ever heard – sang a song on one of her albums years ago that (to my surprise) did not become one of her “greatest hits.” The chorus goes something like this: Open the door and come on in; I’m so glad to see you, my friend. You’re like a rainbow coming around the bend. And when I see you happy, well, it sets my heart free. I’d like to be the kind of friend to you that you are to me. After the last verse, she pluralizes the word “friend” and says, “you’re all like rainbows coming…” I’m reminded of that song this morning and of a famous image of Jesus knocking on a door that has no doorknob so the person on the inside must open it. The message is clear, we must invite Christ into our lives.
In this morning’s gospel (LK 11:5-13) Jesus begins by suggesting a scenario to his disciples of someone going to a friend’s house at midnight asking for three loaves of bread for out-of-town guests who have just arrived. The friend tells him to go away as his household is already locked up for the night. I know the truth of the next line. It says, I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his perseverance. Sometimes it’s easier to answer the door when you don’t want to, rather than continuing to hear the knocking. More than just giving in when frustrated, however, I think this is a call to welcome.
The more familiar part of this text follows as Jesus says, And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. This is a comforting thought but there is a catch for persons of faith. Prayer/faith cannot be tied to outcome. When we “storm the gates of heaven” for something – often when people ask us for prayer – we need to remember that God’s vision is clearer than ours and the answer to prayer comes from a heart wiser than ours. We need to pray and to believe that God will always answer. The difficult part is continuing to believe when the “answer” is not the one we would have chosen. This is a hard saying when we are emotionally involved in outcome for ourselves or those we love. It takes practice to acknowledge that God knows better than we do what should happen in a particular case. Opening the door of our hearts to God’s choices for us and our lives is one of the ways that we become like Jesus, who emptied himself to become free enough to do all that was asked of him, knowing that God’s ways are not our ways and that God is always at the door of our hearts, waiting to enter in with a presence that is the answer to all our needs.