Rev. Dawn Adams is the minister at the First Congregational Church of Brimfield, MA.
Scripture: Psalm 15, (NRSV)
A Psalm of David.
O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy hill?
Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
and speak the truth from their heart;
who do not slander with their tongue,
and do no evil to their friends,
nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
in whose eyes the wicked are despised,
but who honor those who fear the Lord;
who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
who do not lend money at interest,
and do not take a bribe against the innocent.
Those who do these things shall never be moved.
Reflection: The Door is Open — Come On In
One day when I was closing up the church, I shut the lights off before I went through the last swinging door. Confident that I knew my way, I set my hand against the door and pushed. It didn’t budge. Confused, I, of course, pushed harder. When the door did not open, I could feel the panic rising in my chest. I could not understand what was wrong. The handle could not be broken as there was none. I had come in this way, so I knew nothing was blocking the door. I was distressed that my way seemed to be blocked. I continued to push, but to no avail. As I was about to give up and walk away, I realized my error. I was pushing on the side of the door with the hinges, not on the side that would swing. Somehow in my confidence and in my rushing, I had become completely confused about the basic principles of doors. The door was not shut to me at all but open to all who might come to it (if we were willing to follow the basic physics of hinge location and swing). This is the reality of God’s wide welcome. God makes room for all of us in God’s presence. If the door seems closed, we should not give up and walk away, but take time to reflect on our lives and consider the ways in which we are engaging with or ignoring God. The door is open and we are welcome in.
At first read, our scripture, Psalm15, seems to counter this idea and imply that residence in God’s presence is meant to be limited. The initial lines of the Psalm ask: “Who may abide in God’s tent? Who may dwell on God’s holy hill?” The questions give us the impression that there will be some divide where some people are allowed in and others are closed out. However, as you read on, you realize that if this is a list of requirements for entry into God’s presence, then no one, except perhaps Jesus, Noah, and Job, would ever be welcomed there. What we begin to realize as we struggle with the instructions embedded in this scripture is that this Psalm is not the key into God’s kin-dom in heaven, but instead a key to living in a way which invites God into residence right where we are. These words are not meant as a path to some other location, but instead are an invitation to God to be with us where we are.
In the Book of Deuteronomy (30:15), scripture says that God has set before us the choice between life and prosperity, death and adversity. This Psalter reading that we are exploring today is the breaking down of that invitation to life. It fleshes out the way of life that welcomes the sacred in. It clarifies how we respond as people of faith to the call of our faith. It is like the “The Way” which we later are taught by Jesus. We are not called to be perfect in it, but instead, to be perfected by it.
Doing as best we can, speaking the truth, caring for our neighbors, living honestly and with integrity draws us closer to God and opens us to the holy found in the everyday. It opens us to God’s presence in the here and now. The more we live into Psalm 15, the more we will become aware of God’s holy presence; and the more we live in God’s presence, the wider we throw open the door for others to enter as well.
God’s welcome is wide and extended to all. There is no pushing on the door necessary. As we live in our faith, we bring heaven to this earth: loving, caring for, and living justly with one another.
God of radical welcome and expansive grace,
I have received your invitation to abide in you.
Stick me firm in this place of love, respect, and grace.
Teach me the boundaries of your dwelling place.
Guide me through your word.
Although I may wander, and even occasionally feel that I am lost,
stretch your tent over me and remind me of my home in you.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving or suffering after a fire at a boat dock in Alabama caused multiple fatalities and injuries
- For the people of Turkey where an earthquake has killed more than 20 and injured over a thousand
- For those who survived imprisonment at death camps during World War II and carry the horrors with them still
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the lengthening light of each day
- For doctors, nurses, medical assistance, and all medical support staff who help ease the suffering of patients every day
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
Federated Church of Willington, Willington, CT
First Congregational Church of Willimantic, Willimantic, CT
First Congregational Church UCC, Williamstown, MA
First Congregational Church of Williamsburg, Williamsburg, MA
Grace Union Church, UCC, Wilbraham, MA
Wilbraham United Church, Wilbraham, MA
First Congregational Church UCC, Whitman, MA
Village Congregational Church UCC, Whitinsville, MA
First Congregational Church, Whately, MA
First Church in Weymouth, Weymouth, MA
Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC, Weymouth, MA
This Week in History:
January 27, 1945 (75 years ago) Soviet troops enter Auschwitz, Poland freeing the surviving of the group of concentration camps and discovering evidence of the horrific crimes committed against prisoners. Despite the efforts of the German Gestapo to hide evidence by burning bodies and blowing up crematoriums, the Soviets found hundreds of thousands of clothing and shoes belonging to former prisoners. It is estimated that 1.3 million people were sent to death camps in Poland. Only 7,000 were found on January 27.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
Dawn Adams is a member of the Immigration, Refugee and Asylum Task Team, and pastor of First Congregational Church of Brimfield, UCC.