“Open the Door to Mystery”
Covenant Baptist Church
September 21, 2014
Kyndall Rae Rothaus
(To listen to the audio, click “play” button above. To download audio, click here.)
I was fascinated by this concept as a child. If you ever watched Touched by an Angel, you may know what I mean when I say I used to wonder if a stranger seemed extra kind or somehow sparkly, could they be an angel in disguise?
As I’ve grown older, this passage has come to mean something more magical and more fantastic than the possibility of dining with literal angels. What I understand when I read this passage now is that by opening the door to a stranger, we are opening the door to God’s mystery. Hospitality is Christianity’s form of a gateway drug into the extraordinary. If you open your heart, if you open your home, if you open your life and your soul and your family to unexpected people and unexpected visits, you might just encounter the likeness of God. You never know who you will meet or how they will change you or what message from the heavens they may bear. This is why it is much safer (and far less magical) to keep your doors shut and your hearts closed and your eyes downcast or at least glued to the television. Don’t let anything new or unusual weasel its way in to your soul, or you just might get pulled into an adventure.
If I were to pick the passage I wanted to use as a great commission of sorts for our community, this would be the one. Show hospitality. “Let mutual love continue.” Doesn’t get more gospel-y than that, if you ask me.
Have you noticed in your life how mutual love transforms in both directions? When love is mutual, the learning is mutual too. Welcome strangers into your life, because you never know what they may teach you. Welcome strangers into your home, because you never know when you might end up looking into the eyes of God. Welcome strangers into your heart, because you never know when Love will overwhelm you and change you into something new.
On Friday night Judge Gemmill was asked why it is he keeps returning to the Congo. I hope he doesn’t mind me repeating this story, but he stood up and said, “Well, I don’t know why I keep going, but I want to be part of God’s great adventure.” Friends, we do not partner with one another and follow God’s call because we know what we’re doing. We do it because we know so little of God’s bigness and we want to reach deeper into the mystery. We are drawn, not by a sense of how much we have to offer, but by the desire to experience more than the passing comforts of a small life. We are compelled, not by obligation, but by curiosity. We want to see more, know more, hear more of this fantastic love of God that exceeds the imagination, and at the end of all things, we want to be counted participants, not bystanders, in the magnificent unfolding of God’s mercy throughout the earth.
In particular, I believe that when we choose solidarity with the suffering ones, that is like opening the floodgates to the Mystery. I cannot explain it, but I believe it to be true, that Jesus dwells where people suffer, and if you enter their tears and their struggles and walk alongside people in their pain, you will end up brushing shoulders with the divine. If you want to know what Jesus is like, go to the places where Jesus walks, and maybe there, where the stench of death is strongest, resurrection also will be real, so real it will hit you in the nose, and, at last, you will inhale life. Amen.