Monday, February 10, 2014

A Tale of Two Gates

One is huge - easy to enter into the warmth of the church and the welcome of the congregation.  The other is small - designed to keep you out in the cold and apart from the congregation.

One is decorated beautifully and protected from the weather.  The other is plain, exposed to the elements.

One requires something of you - wholeness.  At least, you can't have any of the problems we are worried about.  The other requires something as well - illness.  This is the gate for those whose illness keeps them away, that makes them unclean.

One is so beautiful, you want to get close and inspect every inch.  The other is plain, an afterthought even.

When I think of the big gate, the front door, with its designs and the special care the Hjemkomst Center has taken to protect the intricate designs from the ravishes of the weather, I think of things like Facebook - where everyone shows their best, where we glow with all that we are doing and how cute our kids were today.  The Lepers' Gate is for those who scan the images and posts on Facebook, seeing so much glory and feeling so much inadequacy.  I think of things like our focus on successful churches that are the "it" place to be in your town, whereas the Lepers' Gate are those uncool places where the worship music is mixed with poor sound quality, the pastor's sermon is unpolished and lags at times, where the less than fashionable are sent to languish.  I think of our focus on success, of having it all today, whereas the Lepers' Gate is where those who know there has to be a better life somewhere else must gather, because this life has robbed them of joy.

Funny, God calls His people to be holy, which means "set apart."  Yet we spend all our time trying to be part of the group.  We want to be like everyone else around us, we want to be accepted and found "cool."

We make gates like that front door for ourselves, though we claim they are for God.  Yet, it is Jesus who touches lepers and makes them whole.  Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matt. 5:3&4)  It is fitting that the Lepers' Gate allowed room for the host to be passed to the diseased - I am pretty sure it is the gate where Jesus is to be found.