Reflection – 23 January 2022

Here is my reflection for 23 January.

Wherever you are in the world you can join in with the worship using this link to Zoom – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84890359132 – worship starts at 11.00 GMT.

Mark

Call to worship
Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you;

search, and you will find;

knock, and the door will be opened for you.”


Lord, as we search now, let us find you.
As we knock, open the door to us.
Let us know you, that we may praise you;
and love you, that we may serve you.

Let’s sing our first hymn.

Hymn 208 – I will enter his gates

We’ll sing it through twice

I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart
I will enter His courts with praise
I will say this is the day that the Lord has made
I will rejoice, for He has made me glad

He has made me glad, He has made me glad
I will rejoice, for He has made me glad
He has made me glad, He has made me glad
I will rejoice, for He has made me glad

Repeat

Let us Pray

Lord our God help us to give our minds to you in our worship, so that we may listen to what you have to say to us and know your will.

Help us to give our hearts to you in worship, so that we may really want to do what you require from us.

Help us to give our strength to you in our worship, so that through us your will may be done.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord

Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

As it’s Cafe Church Sunday here’s the traditional quiz.

Pause and see if oy can get the answers – you can check at the end of the blog.

Quiz answers

1The bingo caller says ‘Key to the door’ for which number? 
2Who was ‘dead as a doornail’ at the start of a well-known story?
3Who had a hit with ‘Green Door’ in 1981?
4What colour is the door of 10 Downing Street painted?
5Which comedian had the catchphrase ‘Shut that door’
6Who was the Roman god of doorways?
7What was the name of the lead singer of The Doors?
8What is the French word for door?
9In which film is the line ‘You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off’?
10Who was the female star of the film ‘Sliding Doors’?

Have you spotted the link?

Not difficult was it.

Today’s theme is another one of Jesus’ ‘I am’ sayings. Last time I spoke to you it was ‘I am the light of the world.’ Today it’s ‘I am the door’

Let’s have a look at a video featuring a door.

I’m sure you’ll all recognise that this was a clip from the film of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. It’s still one of my favourite stories – and a wonderful feat of imagination to conceive of entering a new hidden world through the back of a wardrobe

We might come across this wardrobe again later in the service.

Now in compliance with all good Café Church principles I’m going to get you to do a lot of the work.

And the first thing I want us to do is think about what Jesus might have meant when he said ‘I am the Door.’

Because I’m fairly certain he didn’t mean that he was made out of wood and hung on hinges.

So Jesus says ‘I am the door’ (or in some translations ‘I am the gate’)

We haven’t done any ancient Greek for a while and I bet you’ve all been missing it. As you’ll know the New Testament was written in Greek and this is the word that it used for door

θύρα

It’s pronounced Thura. It does literally mean door, but it can be used for gate too.

So for this first exercise we’ll stick with door.

Here are some pictures of doors. One of them you might recognise from the video I’ve just shown you. 7 doors in total. Each a different type of door.

What I’d like you to do is to work out what the doors in the pictures are and then use your imaginations. Can you come up with something relating to each picture which might tell us something about what Jesus might be like?

So for the picture of a safe door you might think – if that’s the type of door Jesus was talking about it might mean that he’s keeping what he knows locked up so we can’t get hold of it.  

By the way – I don’t think that’s what Jesus did mean.

Before reading on do stop and think about it for a while. Maybe make some notes.

Here are a few of my thoughts about some of them

Wardrobe door – a way into a different world

Safe door – Keeping treasure for us

Number 10 – a symbol of power and authority

Sliding doors – easy to get through. Keep you safe

Cell door – punishment

Fire escape door – available for you when there’s an emergency or things go wrong

Air lock door – making sure you can’t get anywhere easily without obeying a lot of procedures

Which ones of these do you think might apply to Jesus?

Which ones don’t?

Time for another hymn – this one will be on a video.

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
And His righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you
Allelu Alleluia

Ask and it shall be given unto you
Seek and ye shall find
Knock and it shall be opened unto you
Allelu Alleluia

Al – le – lu – ia
Al – le – lu – ia
Al – le – lu – ia
Al – le – lu Al – le – lu – ia

Let’s have our Bible reading now. The version we are going to hear uses the word gate rather than door – but as we’ve already seen the word is the same in the original Greek.

Bible reading

John 10:1-10

The Parable of the Shepherd

10 Jesus said, “I am telling you the truth: the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who goes in through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him; the sheep hear his voice as he calls his own sheep by name, and he leads them out. When he has brought them out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. They will not follow someone else; instead, they will run away from such a person, because they do not know his voice.”

Jesus told them this parable, but they did not understand what he meant.

Jesus the Good Shepherd

So Jesus said again, “I am telling you the truth: I am the gate for the sheep. All others who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Those who come in by me will be saved; they will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.

So – time to think about what Jesus was actually meaning when he said I am the door or I am the gate.

As Jesus often did he told a parable – he put what he was trying to say into a story. And as often happened the people listening didn’t get it so he had to explain it.

As ever it’s important to look at the context when we try and understand a bible passage. Why did Jesus tell this parable at this point?

Let’s look at what comes just before this in John’s Gospel. Chapter 9 is given over to a miracle. Jesus comes across a beggar who has been blind since birth. The disciples ask him why he was born blind – was it because of the sins of his parents?  Having dismissed that idea (It’s an important point in passing – bad things don’t happen to people because they do wrong things. And the corollary is also true – sometimes good people suffer hardships.) anyway having dismissed that idea Jesus goes on to make him see again.

The man is delighted, as you might imagine, but news of the cure comes to the notice of the Pharisees. Who are less than delighted.

You’d think wouldn’t you that someone who was blind now being able to see would be a good thing that everyone could agree on. But no – there are a couple of problems as the Pharisees see it. First it all happen on a Sabbath – folks can’t go round curing people on the Sabbath as it breaks the commandment. And in any case who does this fellow Jesus think he is – he’s a nobody.

The previously blind man doesn’t care about these arguments – he can see, he thinks it’s a sign that Jesus is from God – and he tells the Pharisees in no uncertain terms. And for his pains the Pharisees kick him out of the synagogue – how can this sinner have anything to teach them!

And it’s then that Jesus tells his parable.

Now to be fair it’s quite a difficult story to follow. There are several characters mentioned.

  • The man that doesn’t enter by the gate – a thief or robber;
  • The gatekeeper who lets the shepherd in
  • The shepherd who leads the sheep.

But Jesus says – ‘I am the gate’. He’s not identifying himself with any of the people in the story but with what is keeping the sheep constrained. The sheep are penned in, they aren’t free. It’s only when the gate is open that they get their freedom. (He goes on to identify himself with the shepherd – but that’s for Martin to talk about next time.)

So who are the thieves and robbers – ‘all others who came before me’ Jesus said. It’s quite clear from what went before that this is a dig at the Pharisees. He’s saying that they aren’t interested in the welfare of the sheep – they come to kill and destroy. And he’s saying that the sheep, the ordinary people, are the ones who can decide who to trust – they ‘know his voice.’ It’s the blind man in the previous story that has identified the truth – he knows who Jesus is. The Pharisees aren’t interested in the welfare of the sheep – they can’t open the gate that leads to freedom , that leads to the pasture where the sheep can live and grow.

It’s Jesus who has ‘come in order that you (the sheep) might have life—life in all its fullness.’

Let’s go back to some of our images of doors that we looked at earlier.

We’re running out of time so let’s just look at a couple.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-4.png

So is Jesus like a Fire Escape or a Cell door?



I think it’s clear from this story that Jesus is all about letting people out, not keeping them captive. He’s a Fire Escape. It’s the Pharisees that are the cell door.

What about the wardrobe door? The door that leads on to another world – to Narnia – to a different version of reality that’s hidden from us. Does this have significance for our understanding of Jesus?

I think there are two ways of looking at this. As there are two main ways of looking at the significance of Jesus.

One is that which is frequently stressed – that Jesus came to save us from the consequences of what we do wrong, to put us individually right with God and allow us access to another reality after we die. Jesus as the door to heaven.

The second is to think of an alternative world that could be in the here and now. That the purpose of Jesus is to show us how to live our lives so that we can make the earth a better place in this life. A fairer, more just world where everyone gets to live their life to it’s absolute best. So that people aren’t hampered by poverty or lack of opportunity. Where everyone gets the chance to be who they can be. Jesus as the door to life in all its fullness now.

Of course the two things aren’t mutually exclusive – they’re two sides of the same coin.

But I think I know which one Jesus was pointing us to when he told his parable about the door.

Let us pray

Merciful God, 
who is more than we can ever imagine, 
give us a wider vision of the world; 
give us a broader view of justice; 
give us dreams of peace 
that are not defined by boundaries of geography

or race or religion, 
or by the limitations of worldly structures and systems. 

Open our eyes and our ears
that wherever we go, 
we may hear your voice calling us by name; 
calling us to serve, 
calling us to share, 
calling us to praise, 
so that we never give up on the promise of your kingdom, 
where the world is transformed, 
and all can enjoy life in all its fullness. 
Amen.

Hymn – You shall go out with joy

You shall go out with joy
And be let forth with peace,
And the mountains and the hills
Will break forth before you.
There’ll be shouts of joy
And the trees of the fields
Will clap, will clap their hands.

And the trees of the fields will clap their hands,
And the trees of the fields will clap their hands,
And the trees of the fields will clap their hands,
While you go out with joy.

The grace

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

and the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

be with us all now

and for evermore.

Amen.

Quiz answers

1The bingo caller says ‘Key to the door’ for which number? 21
2Who was ‘dead as a doornail’ at the start of a well-known story?Jacob Marley
3Who had a hit with ‘Green Door’ in 1981?Shakin’ Stevens
4What colour is the door of 10 Downing Street painted?Black
5Which comedian had the catchphrase ‘Shut that door’Larry Grayson
6Who was the Roman god of doorways?Janus
7What was the name of the lead singer of The Doors?Jim Morrison
8What is the French word for door?La porte
9In which film is the line ‘You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off’?The Italian Job
10Who was the female star of the film ‘Sliding Doors’?Gwyneth Paltrow

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