Good morning, Friends! Thank you all so much for coming this morning. We always like to see you!
For the last few months, we’ve been celebrating the 250th anniversary of Springfield. We’ve been hitting all that history stuff pretty hard this year.
But now Birthday Sunday is over. So, no more history – I’m not even going to say the “H” word for a couple of weeks!
Today we’re going to look at the present and the future. And to do that, we’re going to start with a reading from the book of Revelation in the New Testament.
Revelation is a complicated book. A lot of people get lost and confused in it, because there’s a whole lot going on. Revelation has angels and animals, dreams and demons, promises and prophecies.
At the start of Revelation, there’s a whole string of visions – seven of them, in fact. Jesus is speaking to seven different churches, with a special message for each one.
We’re going to listen to just one of those messages today – the last one, the seventh one.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.Revelation 3:20-22
There’s a lot of different things to say about this passage. But the most important thing is, this is possibly the most Quaker passage in the whole book of Revelation.
“Here I am!” Or, in the old translation, “Behold!” It’s like saying, “Look! See! Wow!”
“I’m standing right at your door, knocking!”
This is the line which Quakers really understand. God – Jesus – the Holy Spirit – is knocking at our door. Just this far away. Only the thickness of the door stands between us.
The only thing keeping us from meeting Jesus is a door which we can open.
Jesus’ hand is on the knocker. Jesus’ finger is on the doorbell. He’s that close to us.
Now, Quakers understand that this kind of door can be outside us or inside us. It can be a door to the outside world, or the door can be inside us, in our heart or in our mind.
The door can be something we’ve done, some kind of outward event. Or it can be something we think, something we feel. But it’s a door that’s tightly shut, and Jesus is hoping, praying, that we’ll open it.
In ordinary, everyday life, when somebody knocks at our door, why wouldn’t we open it? It might could be that it’s dark and cold outside, and we’re afraid. We think there might be a robber, who wants to take something away from us. Or it might be somebody drunk or violent, and the door is our safety.
During the daytime, we might not open the door because we think it’s a salesman, or a door-to-door evangelist.
Our lives are full of many doors. In the old days, people kept their door open all the time, or maybe they had a screen door in the summer.
Today, we keep our door locked and shut. Every room in our house has doors. Our whole lives are closed off, with passwords and ID numbers, accounts and all kinds of stuff we’re afraid will be hacked.
Almost everybody these days has at least a peephole in their front door. Many people have door cameras and motion sensor lights and other ways of checking who’s on the other side of the door.
If it’s the mail carrier or FedEx or UPS or Amazon, we might we waiting by the door for a delivery. There might be something important or fun in a package for us.
But most of the time, we don’t open the door, unless it’s somebody we know and trust. We just don’t open our door to strangers.
There’s an old, funny story that every pastor knows and tells. A pastor came calling one day and knocked and knocked on the door.
Nobody answered, so the pastor took out a calling card and wrote on the back, “Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”
Turns out the person was still in the shower, so the next day the pastor got a message saying, “Genesis 3:10 – I heard the sound of you outside, I was naked and I hid myself!”
You get into all kinds of situations with these Bible verses.
But the point is, Christ isn’t a stranger. Or at least, Christ shouldn’t be a stranger at our house. I mean, this is Jesus knocking at our door, right? Wouldn’t we rush to open the door and let him in?
We’d say, “Come on in, Lord, take a chair, let me get you a cold drink and some chips or a cookie! Please make yourself at home! Mi casa es su casa!”
But we don’t always do that. And I think part of the reason we don’t always hear the knock and open the door, is simply that there’s so much noise in our world.
There’s too much noise on the street. There’s too much noise from the news or the game on TV. There’s way too much noise from our computer games and video games, blowing up space aliens.
A lot of people spend half their time with their earphones on or their earbuds in. They couldn’t hear a bomb go off six feet away from them, let alone hear the quiet knocking of Christ at their door.
We don’t open the door because we’re just too busy. We’re working or playing. Or we’re never at home.
It’s surprising how much of the time we aren’t at home, not just physically, but spiritually. We’re not at home, inside ourselves. We’re someplace else, and that inner place, our own soul, is empty. It’s like we’re strangers to ourselves.
In Revelation, Jesus is knocking at the door of our home, and we usually think about it as the front door. But Jesus knocks at every door we have, at every door he thinks someone might be there.
Jesus knocks at our front door, back door, side door, porch door, door to the deck, garage door. He’s knocking on the door of our office or our work place, at our school door, the door of the place we’re shopping or wherever.
Jesus is persistent, and Jesus is an opportunist. Jesus will try any door he can find, to reach us. Because Jesus loves us. He wants nothing better than to be invited in, and spend time with us.
Revelation says, “Wow! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice. . .”
Hearing Jesus’ voice is the other big thing. We don’t just hear Jesus knocking. We need to listen and recognize who it is.
In one of the gospels, Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and my sheep know me. I have other sheep, that aren’t part of the flock yet. I must bring them, so that they will know my voice. . .” (John 10)
One of the things which every Christian needs to do is practice listening for the shepherd. There are many different voices out there, some of them loud and pretty convincing. But they’re not the voice of Christ. We need to learn to tell the difference, and follow the shepherd.
You’ve heard me say this before, but one of the oldest pieces of Quaker advice comes to us from London Yearly Meeting, which said, “Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts, which are the leadings of God.”
Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. . .”
Jesus asks nothing more and nothing better, than for us to hear his voice, and open the door, and for him to come in and sit down with us, and share a meal.
That is really what it’s all about.
Did you ever have a friend – maybe in school, or maybe a cousin or a close friend – who sat down with you at lunch time? And you forgot your lunch, so they opened up their lunch box, and got out a sandwich and shared it with you?
Or somebody who would sit next to you, and you’d swap desserts? Or you were thirsty, and they’d let you have a drink from their soda or their tea?
That’s what I’m talking about. And that’s what Jesus wants to do with us. Jesus wants to share his lunch with us. Or Jesus wants to sit down, and share a meal with us.
That’s what prayer is like. And that’s the kind of person Jesus is.
Jesus is willing to share anything we need. He’d give us fresh bread, every day, if we ask for it. He’d give us life-giving water, and we’d never be thirsty again.
Jesus would give us any tools we need – tools to plant a garden, or tools to fix whatever needs fixing. Jesus would give us a ladder to climb up so we can reach to Heaven. Or he’d throw us the end of a rope, and pull us out of whatever hole we’ve fallen into.
We just have no idea how much of a friend Jesus wants to be to us. He’s willing to go anywhere, walk with us, wait for us, lift us up, hold our hand, give us strength, listen to us, hold us back, anything. Anything at all.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they will eat with me. . .