April 8th – “Crossing The Threshold”

Today was a new adventure for me. I was switching from worship leader to worshipper. From preacher to pew sitter. I’m excited to spend my Sabbatical Sunday’s visiting other churches to experience how others celebrate their faith. I decided to start my new Sunday routine at Painswick United Church as they were celebrating their 14th anniversary. I arrived on time, jumped out of the car, walked up the pathway to the front door. I put my hand on the door, but then I had to pause for a moment before I opened it. I had butterflies! It seemed strange, because I knew what I was getting into. On the other side of the door was a United Church service, with United Church people, some of whom I know and I know well. I knew that I would be warmly welcomed (and I was). I knew I would like it (and I did).

So, why butterflies?

I think the act of crossing any threshold is an act of faith and courage. It doesn’t matter how much we prepare ourselves for what is on the other side of a door, the act of swinging it open and going in can take some serious inner fortitude. We like what is familiar. We like our routines and our roles. We like our comfort zones. And a door, in its own way, can be a frontier into what is unfamiliar, untested, and unknown. William Blake once said, “in the universe there are things that are known and things that are unknown, and between the two there are doors.”

Imagine a world without doors. Imagine moving fluidly from one place, one location to the next without the stress of crossing a threshold. Would fear be relieved? Would we be more likely to go to new places, try new things? Or do we need doors to force us to make commitments and take chances? Philosopher Kamal Ravikant wrote that “confidence comes from opening doors and crossing thresholds”.

In the biblical story of the Prodigal son, the young man whose life was in ruins feared returning home and crossing the threshold of his father’s house, expecting his father’s wrath, judgement and persecution. We all know what happened. Before the Prodigal son even reached the door, his father crossed the threshold for him and ran to embrace him and welcome him home in an act of extravagant grace and love.

Crossing a threshold is an act of faith, but it can also be an experience of grace. It just takes a little confidence to pull open the door and step through.