Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 that “when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
So basically it is as if he is commanding us to shut the door!
Strange, seeing as how we can probably all find more verses in scripture where Jesus tells us to open the door...to let people in...to welcome...etc…
But in this case, he tells us to shut the door.
He is actually explaining that prayer is something between you and God. There is no call or reason for making a scene in public just to show how righteous you are...just how pious you are over another individual. That was what was happening at his time, in a way what is happening in our time.
He begins by saying “beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”
But let us return to “shut the door.”
Christ asks us to actually shut everything out for that moment as we pray.
Evelyn Underhill, a great Christian Mystic (yes, more spiritual than religious in today’s terms) of the very late 19th and early 20th century. She also acknowledges that when we shut the door, we allow it usually to be ajar a little bit. Ajar to let in some of the daily chaos...the joys and the sorrows that surround us.
However, Christ was very clear. Shut the door.
Shut the door to the daily chaos and focus in on your relationship with God for the moment. Focus in on your prayer life and allow the world to hustle and bustle without you for just a few moments and focus in on what is most important.
Your relationship with the Holy.
Your relationship with God.
If we allow other voices and activities to fight for our attention, it is most likely we will be turning our attention away from God and to those other distractions.
Advent is a perfect time to shut the door, even for a little while.
We are invited to be part of the busiest time of the year from Black Friday all the way to Christmas day, forgetting about the small things in our lives and world. We become hyper focused on bargains and Christmas shopping, Giving Tuesday and Cyber Monday.
But what if for a moment you allow yourself to close the door on all that?
I think this is why we tend to have midweek services for Advent...Wednesday night we get to come together in community and shut the door.
We get to shut the door on the hustle and bustle in the world and be together.
We get to be together to sings, pray, and enjoy the company of Christ in, around, and among us. I hope that you will be able to join us for our Vespers every Wednesday evening, starting tonight at 7:00 pm. We will immerse ourselves in song and scripture and conversion.
After our worship time together, we are invited to spend time in further conversation in community for refreshments after the service.
I am looking forward to seeing you and wish you a very blessed Advent!
Yours in Christ,