Mid Week Faith Lift
July 15, 2020
“I Am the Door”- Station 10
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis
Good morning and welcome to Unity Church of Ames! Today we are doing the online service from inside the sanctuary of our church, inside the doors of our physical Church building. We are celebrating our 27th birthday as a spiritual community today and it is really wonderful to invite you to come virtually through our doors here at the church. Never did we ever believe we would not be able to gather here on Sundays, but this time of pandemic has taught us that we are not the gathering, we are not the building, we are the Koinonia, or “beloved community.”
In our journey as Unity Church of Ames, we began as the “Ecclesia”, a Greek word that describes a gathering of people who are of like mind. It was Greek citizens who gathered to discuss and share ideas, mostly all men. And that is how we began, as a gathering of people who were seeking a new path of spiritual consciousness together, new ideas. We were a gathering of women and men and children who sought a new path, a new way to be together. And we found places to gather on Sundays and other days in downtown Ames at the Octagon and in other spaces. We were for sure a gathering of people, faithful to our meeting and gathering times.
And then we found a church building, the “Basilica” or church here on 9th & Kellogg, which is where I am today, along with a handful of folks who are here with me. In 2003 we moved into our building, remodeling it, making it truly ours. And over the years 8 years I have been here we have re-roofed it, painted it inside and out, raised the Community Room floor, put in a new patio and ramp in the front and planted an Angel Garden in the back which feeds hungry people.
We have welcomed the stranger, visitors and newcomers, many of whom felt at home and stayed to become members. We have celebrated holidays, had picnics and parties, potlucks, sock hops, trivia nights, Reader’s Theater, concerts and Clark’s plays. We have had healing fairs and we fed the Ragbrai riders. We have celebrated christenings, weddings, and mourned the loss of beloved members with memorial services. We have fed ice cream to our neighbors on the patio. Many have told me that they love knowing we are here, that pretty little white church on the corner. We are the only non-residential structure in Old Town Ames, a national historic district.
Much that is good has happened because of our building, and yet, we are not our building. Each step in our growth as a spiritual community has prepared us to step over yet a new threshold, through a new doorway and we are doing that yet again. Over these 27 years, we have grown into the “Koinonia” or beloved community. It is that energy or consciousness that sustains and supports us as we love and care for each other in this time of pandemic. We have loved, prayed with and for one another, prayed and sung together, argued, disagreed and forgiven each other many, many times.
It is that willingness to grow in consciousness and to learn from each other that has supported and sustained us when we are not able to be together in person. It is that energy of the heart that has made us the “beloved community.”
In that spirit of “koinonia” or beloved community, we are now truly a church without walls, a church without doors. As we moved into the new dimension of online church, staying connected through the various internet platforms and the three times a week prayer phone calls, we have each encountered that liminal space that is the new space where we connect with one another, hearing our voices and seeing virtual images of each other.
What that has made clear to me is that a door is more than a physical reality, it is also a mental, emotional and spiritual reality. At this Station 10, “I am the door,” we encounter the Archetype of Door, which means it is a universal symbol. In the book, 16 Stations of the Cosmic Christ, Bishop Marc Andrus says this about doors: “The door is the will shaped by love, so that it is about opening rather than closing, and moving across thresholds.” P. 111. I love that image of the door as the “will shaped by love,” for it is love that truly does open us, both the physical doors and the door of our hearts. And it is the door of our heart, a spiritual door that is the gateway to the place of freedom and peace.
This Archetype of the Door image is a tricky one, however, because while we are curious, and we long for freedom, we often sink into complacency and at times despair not moving toward a new threshold or doorway, even when it is obvious that we need to do that. When our human will is not shaped or energized by love, we can believe that we are not worthy or that we cannot move past or out of our present circumstances.
I remember learning in a Seminary class on pastoral care that it typically takes 7 attempts before a physically and emotionally abused woman walks successfully and finally through the door of abuse into a new life of freedom. It takes a lot for our will to be shaped by love, especially when our human self has been beaten down and abused. That was a sobering reality about how difficult it is for humans to make changes, even when they are suffering and really want things to be different.
We are living in a time that is causing us to look at the walls of privilege that we have constructed to feel safe and in control of our lives. As Matthew Fox says in this chapter, “I Am the Door,” on p. 113:
Doors introduce what has been called a ‘first myth of outside and inside.’ Do we feel outside, left out, alienated? Or are we inside, feeling welcomed, warm, protected, cozy, belonging and at home? It would seem the Christ as door is an affirmation of belonging.
The idea of a door to separate those who belong and those who don’t is truly a myth. The Cosmic energy of Door as archetype brings us right to the energy of the Christ, an energy in which all are welcome, all belong whether they yet realize it or not. Many folks have found us online on our Unity Church of Ames Facebook page and it is a page without doors. That is our intention here, to welcome all to that journey to the Christ within, sometimes a journey out of the walls of addiction, a journey away from an emotional trap of abuse and self-doubt. It is through the spiritual practices that we share here that we each take that journey to healing and wholeness. And we can only take it through the energy of the Christ within each one of us. That is the message of Jesus in the Gospel of John 10:1-10. It reads like this:
Jesus the Good Shepherd
10 “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
That is our mission and vision here at Unity Church of Ames; to open the doors of our hearts so that through the Christ spirit in us, we create a better church and a better world. It is not through the building, it is not through our wealth or riches, it is not through our programs and activities but through the Christ of us honoring the Christ in you that we open our hearts and allow our will to truly be shaped by love. We listen to that voice within that whispers to us to love, to forgive and to heal and in that voice we hear the Christ of us. Any other voice, any other energy that says someone is not welcome, well, we don’t hear it or heed it for we are listening for the voice of the Christ, the voice of love. That is our mission, that is our purpose, that is our calling here at Unity Church of Ames.
Now that we are a church whose building is closed, we are a church without walls or doors. We are in the liminal space of the Internet, opening our hearts to all who have found us. We do not know who has actually found us there, just the number of “engagements” as Facebook describes it. We welcome all who have found us and who have come back. What we offer here, in our spiritual community, our beloved community is a path back home, a path back to your heart. Welcome to Unity of Ames, welcome home. And Happy 27th Birthday, Unity of Ames!
Blessings on the Path,
Meditation— A Pandemic Prayer of 27 Blessings for the 27th Birthday of Unity Church of Ames
May we all survive to another birthday
May we greet each new day with the welcome of wonder
May we breathe in the miracle of fresh air
May we breathe out what no longer serves us
May we let go of energy of worry
May we find our energy rooted in faith
May we give generously of our time, talent and treasures
May we receive graciously from an abundant Universe
May we love wastefully
May we nurture and honor our bodies
May we speak with kindness and care
May we be mindful of our boundaries and those of others
May we listen to one another with rapt attention
May we befriend the Silence and its gifts
May we be a refuge for each other
May we hold one another loosely
May we let go of fear and grasping and any need to hoard
May we have compassion for all, even those we dislike
May we let our time apart draw us even closer to each other
May we open our minds to a new way of seeing and thinking
May we open our hearts to the abundant flow of our good
May we express a constant prayer of thank you for all our blessings
May we find joy in the beauty of flowers
May we find fun and delight in the antics of our pets
May we find beauty in the world around us
May we find dignity and worth in the faces of strangers
May we find the Christ of us, the door to our hearts, vibrant and strong each and every day.