30 Days We Pray

A locked door is an almost universal symbol of exclusion.  

That thought just hit me today as I sat in our entry way with doors wide open for anyone to come in and pray in our chapel.  We here at Reformation have operated in a city that we say we want to “bloom where we are planted” but have we asked the question, who are we locking out?  

Over the first three days of our practice of “Every Day We Pray: 30 days of prayer” where we are opening the chapel to pray for anyone to come in.  Within that time, I’ve seen more non-church members than disciples of our congregation, that is not a judgment just a fact.  From the addict to the recovering addict.   From the person that has been incarcerated to the homeless.  From the person afraid they have contracted an STD to someone with HIV. Each of them just walking in and sitting or standing for a moment or extended period of time and coming into our chapel to do a simple thing that I believe many of us as “believers” take for granted.  Pray.  

A locked door is an almost universal symbol of exclusion.  

But on each of these days, these people have found an open door.  I wonder always what the Spirit is up to when I open my mouth with an idea that I wish I could pull back.  I want to pull it back because I know it will take more work, more effort and more people because I know the already taxed  and anxiousness that we feel as a congregation.  But then as I sit and have conversations with people like Cristian, yes Christian without the “h” who wants to borrow 8 books that are on the shelf on issues of faith when he says “if you don’t have prayer you ain’t got nothing!” Which some would not expect to come out of the mouth of this 20-year-old that lives in the neighborhood, with his tats, ball cap and earphones that are blasting Christian rap in his ears that his faith is stronger than his biceps.  I realize in that moment truth behind what our locked doors have done to our community.  Created exclusion.  

Locked doors don’t have to be literal. It could be what we radiate in our day to day.  Locked doors can come from our reluctance to listen to God through prayer.  Our resistance to not continue studying scripture.  Our refusal to share a meal with someone that we don’t know and get to know the person.  Or even encourage someone who doesn’t have anything to offer us.  Locked doors even manifest in ways in which we refuse to share our gifts.  

Through being an open presence in the midst of the city our church is called to be a welcoming witness to the all who enter in.  But if we are locking away our gifts and ourselves from others, no matter what we do here - the doors will appear to be locked from those who normally wouldn’t walk in to our church.  We have to learn to be open in traditional and non traditional ways.  Maybe it’s opening a chapel once a month and just being here for anyone who wants to talk.  Maybe it’s a meal that we share.  Maybe it’s sitting on our grass mounds with a book and striking up a conversation.  All with our doors wide open moving from a fortress mentality to an open gate mindset.  And maybe with an open gate mindset we can be a people that will help create passageways to God.  

So maybe this is my personal little manifesto but here is my commitment that I hope you will join me in:  
I promise to: 
Listen to God - setting aside focused time each week to listen for God’s still small voice.  
Learn from God - devoting focused time of learning from Christ through scripture.  
Eat with others - sharing a meal with people I don’t live with two times a month. 
Encourage Others - intentionally encouraging at least two people I don’t know through words, gifts or actions. 
Give of myself - through time, money, skills/ and/ or passions to others.  

Maybe that way, doors and hearts can be unlocked.  

Rev. Imani N. Olear


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