“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.” - Revelation 3:7
Years ago, I had one of those weeks when nothing seemed to go as planned. A lock failed on one of the parsonage doors where we lived at the time, in a house built roughly during Abraham Lincoln’s second term in office. I would have been trapped in the windowless room for days had my husband not come home to rescue me. Had he been out of the country, as he was the previous week, I might have remained undiscovered for days, until I failed to show up for worship on Sunday.
Then my computer got hacked by someone in Malaysia, and lots of folks received a suspicious email from their minister. Those receiving it wisely checked with the office about its legitimacy and then deleted it. Passwords were re-set, but unfortunately, the computers of some of our church members now rejected any mail from me. The temporary lock-out seemed like forever, shutting down communications with church members for some time.
Later that day, the lock broke off my study door when I finally got to church. For a few hours, I did my work the old-fashioned way, writing with pen on a yellow legal pad in the greeting area just outside the office. Folks passing through stopped to chat or sit for a while over a cup of tea.
I tend to be curious about the meaning of ordinary things. It should come as no surprise that I wonder about the lessons of days like these. At the very least, I think God asks us to pause in our headlong rush to accomplish everything all at once. After a long season of activity and breathless rush to prepare for planned and celebratory events at home or at church, God sometimes says, “Stop”.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes God sends dramatic messages when I’m not paying enough attention. Getting locked out of doing life the usual way seems pretty clear. “Stop and pay attention,” God says, “I’m doing a new thing here. Don’t miss it.”
This time next week we’ll consider how our practices during Lent can help us embrace the essential and release the merely important. Until then, I think I’ll pay close attention. Otherwise, I may find myself standing alone in some vacant parking lot, locked of my car.
Prayer: God of all things breathing and still, quiet me this day, that I might trust and follow you.
God’s grace, mercy, and peace be with you,
Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland,
Senior Minister, The Community Church of Vero Beach