No one can show up at our door unannounced. Our dog will see to that. But when I was a kid, people came and went freely—milkmen, breadmen, men who worked for my father.
People at the door often brought welcome news or company, but sometimes trouble came to the door in the form of a bill collector, and my mother would hide us kids and pretend no one was home.
Even if you don’t have an excitable dog, a knock at the door elicits curiosity, a sense of anticipation. Something happens at the door.
Among other things, doors, in the Bible, are metaphors for temptation (sin crouches at the door—Gen. 4:7), providence(God opens doors before Cyrus to fulfil His purpose) opportunity(Paul looks for doors to open to the Gospel), Christ (John 10) and the return of Christ :”. . . .When you see these things, you will know it( The Son of Man coming out of the sky on clouds in power and glory!) is right at the door.” (Matthew 24:33)
In rereading the gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth I thought about the people who came to Mary’s door.
There’s Gabriel, the same angel who introduced himself to Zechariah as one who stand[s} in the presence of God. Regardless of how careful you are to keep angels in their place and not entertain the idea of worshipping them, you have to admit, it’s pretty thrilling to think about a visible, tangible being who stands in the presence of God, now standing right in front of you.
And then there were the unexpected visitors at the door of her cave/stable. At least shepherds were indigenous to the surroundings, even if their visit and their account of heavenly host did cause Mary to ponder these things in her heart.
Still later, occupied with all that having a toddler entails, Mary must have been amazed to see magi from far-off lands, bearing lavish gifts of incense, gold and myrrh, standing at her door.
I don't know who will be standing before your door this holiday season, or before whose doors you will stand, but I pray that you will be the bearer and receiver of blessings of great joy (And remember you don't know if you might be entertaining angels!)
Merry Christmas, friends,
Lift up your heads, O you gates;/ be lifted up you ancient doors,/ that the King of glory may come in./Who is this King of glory?/The LORD strong and mighty, . . .the LORD Almighty—he is the King of glory. –Psalm 24: 8, 10
My personal Christmas “door” story was of a time I was in northern Minnesota with little money to get home to Vermont for Christmas. But the thought of my parents’ disappointment about not having their children with them haunted me.( In case you’d like to continue, I’ve included the story below, which although true, is written as fiction because I couldn’t remember all the exact details.)
Gifts—Even When There Is No Money
Two days before Christmas. With two hundred dollars in her pocket and twelve hundred miles ahead of her, she figured the chances of getting home weren’t good. Anna felt the disappointment masked as understanding travel through her mother’s voice over the phones lines when she told her.
It would be her parents first Christmas without all their children, three grown and gone, two still there though. Well, they’d certainly miss her, mom said, but they hadn’t given up hope that her brother on leave from the service would make it in time.
Dad would be sad, but hey, that’s what happens in families. Kids grow and go.
Anna set the receiver down and stared at the wall. But she didn’t see the Monet poster tacked up with push pins or the calendar with the snowy Rocky Mountain peaks scene—a gift from the oil company.
What she saw was a Christmas tree lit with fat multi-colored lights that glowed through the heavy drippings of tinsel. Tinsel strands that shimmered and reached out to grab you when you got near. She saw mounds of presents that appeared every year even though her mom warned them not to expect much because they had no money.
And superimposed on Monet’s “Water Lilies” poster, she saw the smiles of parents who had sacrificed and squeezed out from somewhere enough to surprise, gladden, and celebrate their family.
She counted her money once again then dialed information. “Greyhound Bus Terminal, please.”
For the next twenty-four hours, wedged in the middle of the back bench of a Grey Hound bus, all Anna could think about was the surprise and delight on her parents’ faces when they opened the door on Christmas Eve and saw their gift—even though this year there wasn’t money for one.