Ezekiel 37: 1-14 & Acts 2:1-13
“Pentecost: Doors Flung Wide Open”

“Pentecost: Doors Flung Wide Open”

Ezekiel 37: 1-14 & Acts 2:1-13 ~ Rev. G. Scott Turnbrook ~ Northwood United ~ May 19, 2024


And the door was locked…At least that is what I found when I returned to my hotel room and my magnetic key card would not open the lobby door in the middle of the night. It was late. It was way past my bedtime. Actually, it was way, way past anyone’s bedtime. Following a great night enjoying Nashville’s country and western music and theological conversation with friends at the preaching conference, I was quite delighted with the thought of some quiet rest. Yet, I arrived back at my hotel only to find that after midnight, they lock out the main lobby door and that my magnetic key card was demagnetized. I also found that the flooding that downtown Nashville suffered had not been particularly friendly to my hotel’s intercom system. I tried to call the front desk for assistance…no answer. The door was locked …and I waited. Surely someone will come home soon. The door was locked…and I waited. I saw some unsavoury looking characters wandering around the downtown. The door was locked…and I was separated from safety, separated from sleep. And I was alone, tired and afraid. It is funny, the preaching festival occurs every year this week leading into the Victoria Long weekend, and ever since that occurred, I always remember that fearful moment of being locked out!


How many of you can relate to that story? I suspect that we have all been on the outside of a locked door. Admit it, most of us have locked the keys in the car or in the house … and as we sit awaiting the locksmith’s arrival, we feel powerless, separated, perhaps even a little foolish. It is not a good feeling, is it? When we stand on the outside and the doors are locked… We have also been on the other side of the locked door too, haven’t we. We feel warm and safe, nestled comfortably on the inside of a locked door. In this modern era, many do not feel safe until the lock is fastened, the deadbolt is engaged, and perhaps even until the alarm is activated and the red-light glows. We rest comfortably…because the door is locked. Yet, as we gather in the comfort and security of Northwood’s sanctuary, we ponder what is wrong with this picture. Locked doors separating us? Locked doors creating divisions? Locked doors latched with misunderstandings and fear?


As I rethink my experience, I find myself pondering what the gospel says about locked doors. Taking a quick scan through the gospel’s take on locked doors, we quickly find that locked doors are NOT a part of Jesus’ Way. In fact, to Jesus they don’t exist. He walks through them. To the Upper Room, he walks into the community that gathers in fear from the world; he walks into many a community in need of healing; he walks into a community fuelled by hatred and devoid of love. The various texts don’t give much explanation as to how this occurs. Somehow Jesus just breaks through any impenetrable fortress – and simply stands among those in need. To Jesus, it seems like a locked door is not a barrier. He just walks right through. And as he enters, he calms all fear, heals any separation, and brings a renewal of peace. For Jesus, the doors are flung wide open, and he enters!


Now, if Jesus’ way is the opening up / breaking down of closed doors, then there is a faithful call to us who follow in His Way. If Jesus is opposed to locked doors and, in fact, tears them open and walks through them. As his followers, we must also tear them down and walk through them. This is the commissioning of all who follow in Jesus’ Way. Jesus called us firstly, to open our doors…and open them widely. And the secondly, once doors are flung open, we need to walk through them and follow in His way. This is, to be sure, a tough assignment! Opening locked doors seems risky enough ~ that makes us vulnerable. But to go out those open doors and go forth living the Way of Jesus ~ that makes us targets! In the past, it was that of going out and living Jesus’ Way amidst Roman Imperialism! Going out and living Jesus’ Way amidst anger from the Jewish community! To those fears, pointing to those open doors, Jesus commissions us all!


Putting this together with our Pentecost text, I think that this was the dynamic at the heart of the people in the Acts reading. I must thank Deborah for bravely agreeing to take this reading, for it is among the most challenging of the readings throughout the entire year. But the point of them being so unpronounceable is to highlight how truly separate these cultures were from one another - Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians. These people could barely pronounce one another’s country name - Judeans, Cappadocians, Phrygians, Pamphylians - They could not speak one another’s languages. And they had locked the doors on one another. These brothers and sisters who had united in the Way of Jesus were still foreigners to one another. They didn’t realize what they shared in common, and so they were afraid of one another. The doors were locked between one branch of Christ follower and another. And as long as they remained locked there was no possibility for a future of the Body of Christ alive in the world. Yet, the doors did not remain locked. The power of God overcame and these locked doors were thrown open by the Spirit-wind of Pentecost. They received the uniting spirit-breath of God and they began to feel one another’s common pain, to hear one another’s common love, to be fed by the God that is bigger than any language or culture or understanding. They were united and they became this odd thing we call ‘church’ ~ a spiritual family.


We are…the church today. Siblings in faith: sisters, brothers, siblings in the ancestry of faith. These people we read about are our ancestors in faith. Their doors were locked for legitimate fear and they were liberated. I wonder what fears cause us to lock our doors and hide in our rooms of fear? Have we locked the doors and hidden inside? It feels like today, there is so much fear among churches. How will we survive? How will we maintain our buildings? How will we keep on going? These are earthly fears, yet they were not the fears that concerned Jesus! The Spirit of God calls us to open the doors, to live our faith forever knowing that we are blessed with one another to share the journey. Once the doors are open, once the people are united, the Body of Christ is united. I am thinking for a moment back to last Sunday’s church family slideshow that we enjoyed as part of the service. Many commented on how emotional it was…seeing our various families…seeing the beauty in our unity…in our diversity…family…in our unity…the Body of Christ.


I think this message has some deep personal implications as well. Have you ever found yourself keeping your faith a secret? Or keeping quiet about faith when it is your moment to speak out? When life hits with the hardest blows; when the world seems to be falling apart; when you aren’t sure how you will keep on keepin’ on – have you ever found yourself closing the doors on God. Where are you God – slam! You close the door. Why can’t you do something God – slam! You close the door. I can’t take this anymore God – slam! You close the door. Fear can be one of the biggest motivators for us to close up on our relationships with the God who yearns to guide you, heal you and bless you.


Pentecost is that great hope – a hope that proclaims: You are not alone. Pentecost is that invitation to receive the breath of God when we need spiritual CPR. Pentecost is that wind of God – when it seems our boat is set to run aground. The spirit of God – when our spirits are at their lowest that God’s Wind will blow us to safety. Pentecost is the call and commission to fling every door wide open and welcome all people, all nations in unity and love. For every door that has been locked has been opened by the Pentecostal wind of God.


May it be so. Happy Pentecost everyone. Amen.