Sermons 2007
Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Proper 16C 2007 Luke 13:22-30

Doors and narrow gates. There is a very interesting and colorful poster entitled “The Doors of Dublin”. There must be at least 40 doors pictured on that poster, all lined up five to a row and eight to a column. No two are exactly alike, although they seem to be the same size, although that may a trick of the computer. They are combinations of all different colors: royal blue, sky blue, Robin’s egg blue, dark red, light red, coral, pink, yellow, and of course many shades of bright green. Not surprisingly none of them were orange. Lintel and door frame were of a different color than the door proper, sometimes as many as three to five colors.

What was very interesting in light of today’s gospel lesson is that all of these doors of Dublin were tightly closed, perhaps locked – who knows. No doubt that was a requirement of the photography – but I thought it very symbolic of what has been known over the centuries as the Troubles of Ireland that the doors were closed.

Doors and narrow gates. There are no doubt doors in our own lives that we have found closed, shut in our faces even, whether for good or ill – who knows? Or doors too shut, gates too narrow, too difficult to squeeze through, doors that might as well have been locked shut and through which we could barely glimpse chances, opportunities, futures that never would occur for us. Nowadays, for example, the rush to get through the door into the “right” college, sometimes results in a closed door slammed shut in our faces and our children and grand children have to look elsewhere. Or we shut doors in the faces of our families and friends in the pursuit of successful careers or whatever.

Sometimes we shut the door in the faces of other people and lock ourselves behind them. One person wrote the rector of her parish:
“I don’t want the city to come into my Church and I don’t want my Church to come into the city….I want to keep them separate -- completely separate -- so that once a week on Sunday morning I can walk away from the people out there and walk into the Church building which is a world all by itself, untarnished by the sadness and cruelty of the world outside. I long for this. I wait for this all week. It’s like heaven to escape out of the world into the refreshing cool of the large building with its choir and its colors and its familiarity. I know heaven will be like this -- alone in a Church congregation, singing, with beautiful flowers on the altar and God instructing us on how to live completely and serenely for another week. (1)

But sometimes when a door is shut and the gate is too narrow, impossible to enter, another door opens. True story:

A young woman named Mary dreamed as a young girl of becoming an obstetrician. She completed her studies and graduated from a medical college in her native country
of India. With several other celebrating young graduates she jumped into a station wagon to go on a picnic. Then an accident happened: the driver lost control and the vehicle rolled over three times.

Three days later, Mary regained consciousness. She knew that she was paralyzed from the waist down. She wept as she saw her dreams evaporate forever. “Oh God, I’ll never feel warm, squirming babies in my hands.” Then she felt the Lord’s Prayer resonating deep within her. Not an uncommon experience when we are desperate and desolated.

Into her room came one of India’s leading surgeons, who said, “Mary I think you could be my assistant in surgery. We could build a ramp and you could operate from your wheelchair.” That was many years ago. Today, Mary is one of the most skillful, expert surgeons in transplanting tendons in deformed lepers’ hands. Her two hands have become the ten fingers of God and thousands of people are happier because of her. As she says it, “I asked God for legs and God gave me wings.” (2)

Doors and narrow gates. One last story, a modern parable: They lay sleeping, dreaming. In their dream they heard something at the door. When they opened the door in their dream they saw a tall and very solemn angel standing there, holding something.

“Oh no!” they cried in their dream. “We’re not ready to go just yet.”

The angel shrugged and said. “You still don’t get it. If we fail this time, it will be a failure of will and imagination.” And then she placed the world gently in the palms of their hands. (3)


1. God/Solitude/Withdrawal, Preacher’s Illustration Service Anthology Series, Voicings Publications, adapted.
2. Healing/Adversity/Medicine, Preacher’s Illustration Service Anthology Series, Voicings Publications, adapted.
3. From a wall hanging in the Harmony Ridge Gallery, Lewisburg, WV, adapted.