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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Matthew 16: 19

”I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…”

I want to talk to you today about keys. What are keys? What significance do keys have today in our “keyless” entry world?

I remember my father was a maintenance worker at one time for a company. He had a key ring jammed full of keys. I used to sit and look at them: keys worn almost smooth from so much use, keys that were grimy and dirty, keys that were brand new and the teeth on those were sharp. There were keys to the lunch room, the locker room, the myriads of doors my father encountered each and every day. He had a key for each of those locks. If he came to a door that he didn’t have a key specifically for, there was even a skeleton key, one that could unlock any door in the whole plant. It was a marvelous thing, his key chain. It jangled when he walked and reminded all who were near him that he could unlock their doors.

And so we come to Peter. Jesus told him he would be given the keys to the kingdom. What an awesome responsibility! Keys to the kingdom. And so also do I picture Peter in his sandals and robes with a VERY large key chain, one that thunderously jangles as he walks the heavens.

We’ve been given keys as well, although they probably don’t jingle when we walk. The keys to the kingdom, even. They are at our disposal night and day if we chose to see them. You see, the idea is that each of us can unlock something in someone with our talents, our abilities, our love, out attention and even sometimes, our anger. God has given us each a set of keys. What doors will you unlock with yours?

Are you willing to share your wealth of talents (your keys, if you will)? Are you able to share your time (another key element)? Can you spare your wealth, in whatever form it comes in? These are the keys of the kingdom and we all have them, no matter how mighty or meek, rich or poor, humble or even arrogant.

What will your keys unlock and how will you go about using them today. That is really the question, isn’t it. Not necessarily recognizing your keys but using what you have to open the door to Jesus’ kingdom.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Jesus for Me, too?

What is it about the verses at the beginning of John 14 that linger and cause my eyes to blur? Why do I always get so choked up? Did someone use these verses at some funeral long ago and it haunts me?

I think the reason could be a little more deep than that. I have pondered those words for many years. Not hours at a time, granted. But each time I either hear them or read them myself, I have thought about what they mean. “Let not your heart be troubled…In my father’s house are many rooms. I go to prepare a place for you.” He meant the disciples. He was talking to them. But it has been interpreted as meaning a place for you and me, too. How could that be? How could there be room for me? Me? The reluctant writer. The foot dragging volunteer. The downright stubborn Christian. There cannot be room for me in my—our-- father’s house. There is no place prepared for me. I don’t deserve a place. I don’t even deserve a place at the dining table. But I’ve been told he accepts me there. I guess I’ve gotten over that part. But the dwelling place? Nope, don’t think so.

You see I am wishy-washy. I am not a bold believer. I go to church on Sundays. I enjoy a good ecumenical debate when I can get one. I’ll argue theology if you want a good argument. But I don’t get vehement. I don’t get in your face. If you want a fighting Christian, you’ve come to the wrong source. I don’t like conflict. I don’t like it when people don’t like me. So what kind of believer am I? Not a good follower, I’m sure.

There is a verse somewhere about Jesus saying that he spits out lukewarm faith. I imagine he has spit me out before and probably will again. But that isn’t what it says in other places in the bible. It doesn’t say he spits me out. It doesn’t say he hates me, or doesn’t care for my weakness or my failures. It states almost emphatically that I am loved no matter what. And I believe that part because to think otherwise is pretty scary stuff. I love God. I trust God more than I’ve ever trusted anyone or anything else. But don’t ask me to be the representative with the voice. The mouthpiece of reverberating fire and brimstone.

And so, I think I feel sad when I read these verses. Because I hope they apply to me and in my poor little not-very-brave heart, I’m very afraid they don’t. But I then have to remember, too, that there is a verse that gives me hope. And that verse says, “help my unbelief.” So maybe there is a place after all.