"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"
Wizard of Oz fans are familiar with these words. As you remember Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tim Man, and the Lion were told that they should pay no attention to the man behind the curtain as they appeared before the "Great Oz." What the miracle seekers discovered when Toto the pup pulled back the curtain was no great or powerful Oz but an ordinary man, a con artist, practicing the art of smoke and mirrors to impress people with his tricks and fake power.
As the pastor, theologian, teacher, and author Leonard Sweet writes,
Oz may have been a charlatan, but human beings have always been leery of coming face-to-face with a greater, non-human power. After they noshed on the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve hid from God in Eden's shrubbery. Moses only saw a burning bush and got a glimpse of God's back on Sinai.
As many of you know from your Sunday lessons and Bible studies, the Israelites placed the Ten Commandments in a box called the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark represented God's presence with them as they wondered in the Sinai Peninsula and as they moved into the Promised Land. Eventually, they built a temple with a room called the Holy of Holies to house the ark and God's presence.
The Holy of Holies was an impenetrable space separated off by corridors, rooms, and finally a purple/blue curtain. Only the High priest could enter the room once a year to be in the presence of God. No one else was worthy to enter. There was a great space between God and the people. God was unapproachable for most. God was far off until Jesus.
The Gospels tell us that when Christ died on the Cross that the Temple curtain was torn in two. The barrier between God and God's people was removed forever by Christ's presence with us. Sweet suggests that from that moment on every temple and every church became an open door.
Removing the curtain, that barrier between the human and the divine, enables the Holy Spirit to flow in two directions. Or to put it in more playful form, The Church of the Open Door always has a saloon door that swings inward and swings outward.
Paul teaches that we are justified by faith. Through a faith, initiated by God, we are invited into a relationship with God. God is no longer down a long corridor, in another room, separated by a curtain. The relationship is now a two way street between God and his people. In other words, the Open Door swings outward as well as inward.
In this season of fear, anxiousness, and uncertainty, we need to remember that Christians, those justified by faith, are called to let loose the power of faith, hope, and love upon the world. We are the power source for the presence of God in our communities and the world. The Church of the Open Door, as Sweet says, is "open to strangers, open to strangeness, open to new ideas and new people." We have nothing to fear because God is with us and God is guiding us.
Think about it.