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THE DOORKEEPER - by Ted Schroder


by Ted Schroder
November 27, 2005

The theme of the Advent season (the four Sundays before Christmas), is preparation for the coming of Christ. Jesus tells the parable of the homeowner going away and leaving his house in the care of his servants, each with his assigned task, and tells the doorkeeper to keep watch for his return. Jesus says, "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back - whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone, 'Watch!'" (Mark 13:34-37)

We have been left in charge of God's household. Each of us has an assigned task. We are to go about our lives fulfilling the assignment God has given us. We are given the task of standing by the door. We are to watch and not to sleep on the job. Sleeping is a metaphor for inattention, of irresponsibility, of disloyalty. To sleep while on duty, on the watch is considered a capital crime.

"A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest –
and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man." (Proverbs 6:10)

Sleeping is denial - shutting down our senses so that the reality of our responsibilities do not have to be faced. Sleeping is the temptation to avoid our assigned task in life - to fail to represent Christ in the world until he returns for us at the end of life. It is the refusal to use the time we have been given to extend his kingdom.

Jesus says that we have to wake up, to pay attention to, being a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord. What does that mean? Let me illustrate my answer from the life of Sam Shoemaker. Sam lived from 1893 to 1963. He was an Episcopal minister who had influential ministries at Calvary Episcopal Church in New York City, and Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh. He was responsible for many of the ideas that were incorporated into the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and ministered to some of the founding members of AA. This is what someone wrote about him.

First, he was ceaseless in his desire to bring people to a deep personal experience of Christ.

Second, he wrote twenty-eight books and innumerable sermons, as well as pamphlets. He always expressed himself with rhythmic phrasing that carried a punch and a challenge to anyone who would read his message.

Third, I admired him for his great courage, for there was no man he feared to challenge on behalf of his Lord and Savior.

Fourth, he had an undying conviction that every man should be converted to Christ. Such conviction cannot help but win people, and his impact was worldwide.

Fifth, he had an incorrigible sense of humor. I have never laughed more heartily with anyone than with this great man.

Sixth, he had a unique personality which had a built-in kind of electricity which fairly crackled with vigor, energy, and magnetism.

Seventh, he was a man of great faith in the power of prayer, and he was able to communicate this faith, through others, to the ends of the earth.

Eighth, he was one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. He knew men in their depths of despair and he has helped an almost unlimited number of men and women who have had alcoholic problems.

He had simple cards placed in the vestibule of his church for distribution. They read as follows:

Calvary Church
Fourth Avenue and 21st Street
Rev. S. M. Shoemaker, Jr. Rector
Personal Religion Straight Preaching
Good Music A Friendly Atmosphere
The staff of Calvary Church like to talk with
people in search of vital religious experience.

Sam Shoemaker saw himself as a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord. He wrote an apologia for his life entitled, I Stand By The Door. This is what he said in it.

I stand by the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out.
The door is the most important door in the world –
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There's no use my going way inside, and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where a door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With far outstretched, groping hands.
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.....
So I stand by the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door - the door to God.
The most important thing any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands,
And put it on the latch - the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man's own touch.
Men die outside that door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter –
Die for want of what is within their grasp.

They live, on the other side of it - live because they have not found it.
Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him....
So I stand by the door.

There is another reason why I stand there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great, and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia.
And want to get out. 'Let me out!' they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled
For the old life, they have seen too much:
Once taste God, and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.

The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving - preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door,
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stand by the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door,
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply, and stay in too long,
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him, and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.
Where? Outside the door –
Thousands of them, millions of them.
But - more important for me –
One of them, two of them, ten of them,
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
So shall I stand by the door and wait
For those who seek it.
'I had rather be a doorkeeper.....'
So I stand by the door.

Jesus tells us to stand by the door and watch. We all have an assigned task to fulfill while we are on this earth. While we are waiting for Jesus to return for us we are given the opportunity to help others in through the door. If Sam Shoemaker is right, and that the most tremendous thing in the world is for men and women to find that door - the door to God - then we should be helping them to find it. If he is right, and that the most important thing any man or woman can do is to take hold of one of the blind, groping hands, of one of our friends or acquaintances, and guide them through the door - then we should get about doing it. If he is right, that nothing else matters compared to helping them find it, and open it, and walk in and find God - then we should direct them, invite them, encourage them to do so.

There are many people you know who are living outside the door of faith in Christ. They are there because they have not found the way. You and I have the responsibility to do something about it. We must not fall asleep on the job. Let us pray for guidance as to how we can fulfill our assigned task. We are doorkeepers. Let us not be gatekeepers that guard the door and prevent others from entering. Instead, let us be like Sam Shoemaker, and be dedicated to helping people find the door and go through it.

An audio version of this sermon may be found on www.ameliachapel.com

Amelia Plantation Chapel
Amelia Island, Florida

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