“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” – Romans 15:7 (NRSV)
“Our house was a port of entry,” my friend Rudy said of his childhood in a Midwestern industrial town, where his dad worked one good job for a lifetime at the steel mill. Rudy recalled union picnics and church Christmas programs. They weren’t just for union members or church folk. Free food, acrobats, Christmas presents, were for everybody, including those new to town.
For while Rudy was raised in one small town in Indiana, his mother was raised in another small town in Mexico, and she did not leave that behind. Rudy recalled how his mother’s relatives from Mexico came to stay with them in Indiana, for months at a time, as they began new lives. He talked about how much bigger his world became because of the cousins who came through their home, saying again, “Our house was a point of entry!”
I felt convicted because I do not think of my home that way. When I am out speaking, when I drive on the highway, when I stand in line at a crowded store, I know I have to share space with strangers. But as an introvert, I’m always longing for that moment when I finally get to close the door on the people I do not know, and settle into my small fortress of the familiar.
When I think of points of entry, I picture the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and other places that are definitely not my house. To be honest, even the phrase conjures up anxiety of standing in long lines at airports, where officers checking passports make me feel like I’m doing something wrong. Then, I rage at the brutality of my own nation’s border, where some offer each other water but more just yell from afar for taller walls.
But what about all the other points of entry, the intimate ones, that are right in front of me? What if I thought of my home, or my church home, as a point of entry? Rather than being a safe place for me and mine, its purpose would be transformed to something better and more Biblical: a point of entry for the one who has yet to arrive.
Make my sacred space a point of entry, welcoming Christ, whether I’m ready for that or not. Amen.