Thursday, November 29, 2012
Come On In. The Door's Open!
The movie “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” opens up with a great contest going on. Within a few select chocolate candy bars are golden invitations for a tour of Wonka’s secret chocolate factory. Adults and children alike seem to be frantic to find the tour invitations, and when one young lad finds a winning ticket, he is immediately beset with huge offers to buy the ticket. But he won’t sell.
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I was sitting on the lid of a small trash can, reading my prayers in the cold morning air, when a shadow passed over me. “You’re about to get hit in the face when this door swings open,” said Father Steve, as he unlocked the church doors. I said: “I’ve been hit by worse things; it’s all relative,” and then I entered the door and the small chapel beyond. As I knelt, alone in the temporary darkness, I looked up at the crucifix on the wall and thanked God for the privilege of visiting Him. I said that I know He comes to me often during the day --- an unseemly thing, in my mind, for a God to come to the likes of me, but this seemed more appropriate, my coming to visit Him.
For whatever reason, then, my mind went to thoughts of the silly chocolate factory, and of “Many are called, but …”
It is a privilege we have, no -- I have, to be able to visit my God in a house dedicated to Him. Throughout the world, many cannot. Perhaps someday people in this country won’t be allowed either. But for now, like the golden ticket of invitation, we have won the lottery, and we are all invited in.
Why do so many choose not to enter?
I know there is needed sleep, and work, and even needed recreation. And bills and car repairs and crying kids and even, sometimes, a good movie. So many things we want to do, and so little time. It always seems that way: so little time.
I said it felt unseemly, that a God should come to visit me and my house --- my messy house. It’s embarrassing what He must think, as he looks about “my mansion” and sees the way I live --- and how little I prepared each day for His coming. Truly, I love the blessings when I become aware of His visits, the gifts He gives me throughout the day. But I feel more comfortable when I visit His house, and when I prepare a bit for the visit.
“Come in. The door’s open,” I remember hearing my mom yell out to whatever neighbor might have politely rapped on our screen door. We didn’t lock our doors back then, and neighbors were always welcome. And no matter what she was doing, mom would stop and chat with them, or help them with their concerns. Her door was always open.
God’s door is like that.
The chocolate factory movie was about a golden invitation given to a few lucky people, but Jesus’ invitation to visit Him, now in His Church, is given to everyone. A golden invitation. Willie Wonka waited at his factory for the five winning invitees to come visit. Jesus waits for the millions He has invited. I wonder what he thinks, as He waits. And waits.
And, oh yes, at the end of the movie, ONE of those who came to the chocolate factory actually won the entire factory. But at the end of our story, EVERYONE who comes to Jesus’ house wins, and they win something much better than a chocolate factory.
The huge prize waiting for everyone who comes is Jesus Himself, and all eternity with Him. And yet few choose to come. Do they think it’s all a con game, like most promotions are: A lie? As Scripture says, the path may be narrow, it’s true, but at the end of the path the door’s not locked. I think perhaps we may be scared away by the saying: “Many are called, but few are chosen.”
Don’t we realize that it is us who are doing the choosing?
“Come on in. The door’s open.”