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Reflecting on adventures for a friend who is embarking on a new adventure to a different part of the country reminded me on our own adventure from Wirral to Wymondham. Adventures are never what you expect, that’s why they are adventures, but God always leads us to the place we are supposed to be.

I’m not a great one for guidance, I chose the coffee that has good price/taste and although it is usually fair trade, I don’t feel the need to ask God personally which blend, after all if I am Holy Spirit imbued I consider it rude to assume my own free will has been totally superseded.  On the down side, unlike my friend, I don’t feel I have ever had a specific calling other than to love my wife and children as best I can. This is not a total cop out as love always costs.  So when we uprooted to be near grandchild and now grandchildren, it was leaving behind many things and people who were also loved and cherished, and giving up, again, roles that we both had credited as important and useful.

So now, here we are, simple doorkeepers in the house of the Lord, but as the psalmist told us in Psalm 84:10 (NIVUK)

“Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

Interestingly, everywhere else in the Bible, doorkeepers or gatekeepers were important roles, but in this Psalm it is more a place of humility, a lowly place with orange tee-shirts and “STEWARD” across the back. But having passed through the doors of churches at home and away the welcome by the doorkeepers is important in its own right. I have observed over the years, and informed by the experiences of friends, that there many forms of welcome, not to name any names and certainly not any churches!

  1. “You need a letter to come in here.”
    Enough said. And don’t expect a utility bill to get you very far.
  2. “You can come in, but we just need to check a few things about you and don’t expect to take communion – you could be anyone!”
    I wonder if this is not worse than (1) as at least you get to feel most uncomfortable before you get inside and you get to miss the sermon which might make you feel even smaller.
  3. “Welcome! Welcome! We really do need a new Sunday School Superintendent!”
    You get inside, but you may not get back out alive.
  4. “Welcome! Please take out notice sheet, our three hymn books, this book of prayer…. oh and our gift aid form for your offering.”
    You have been admitted to an exclusive club where special knowledge and behaviour is required which may take significant time to acquire and if you have not learned it from an early age you will leave feeling very confused.

This is always assuming that you get a welcome in the first place and don’t just walk in and have everyone stare at you like a hobo who has just walked into an exclusive gentleman’s club.

I have also seen how dear friends do it. Imagine walking into a crowded room and the person who greets you gives you their whole attention, is warm and smiling, seems to know how you might be feeling nervous, unsure, even unwashed, and puts you at your ease straight away. This kind of welcome is precious, a leadership driven welcome that ensures that everything else about what happens thereafter makes no assumption, no judgement, no pressure, just a freedom to take whatever is on offer and in this case there are life changing opportunities for those who want them.

So until something easier comes along we’ll keep donning the tee-shirt and trying our best to be doorkeepers worthy of the Lord. He is the door after all.