Doors open to God, ourselves and others!

James Cathcart November 01, 2022 0 1
Doors open to God, ourselves and others!

James from the team reflects on our recent Sunday Live service Doors Open: God Honours the Outcast, and the street that Lily Cathcart created for us…

In our recent Sunday Live, my wife Lily took us to this lovely street pictured above. I’m not very artistic or crafty or hand-eye co-ordinated but I married into all these things! As you’ll be well aware if you’ve been part of Sanctuary First for any length of time: Lily is a gifted and generous writer, actor, artist and crafter and she’s used to fielding all sorts of challenges we set here. This time Lily gamely took on a vague request from me for some, and I quote: “Doors or something” with “Eh, flaps I think” that I could use in the service.

I wanted something visually engaging to anchor the metaphor of opening doors when connecting to God, ourselves, and one another. If there’s one thing Laura Digan and I love it’s an extended metaphor. Whether it’s a washing line, a postcard, a crown, or an engraving — we will commit to 'a bit’!

The thing is, as a species we do well with stories, pictures, poetry and patterns.* A structure to hang things on helps us to remember, glean insights, and think outside the box (we also like mixing metaphors…) while remembering where on earth we are and what’s going on! Some of us have had the experience of being 22 minutes into listening to a sermon which looks like it has at least 22 more to go, struggling to remember our own name let alone the topic…

So — doors! On Sunday 23rd October we were thinking about how the three acts of opening the door to God, opening the door to ourselves, and to one another are all connected. Part of being open to God is being open to yourself as someone who God loves and wants to know. Part of being open to yourself is being open to one another — because other people are part of what makes you, you. We don’t live in isolation. And part of being open to one another is being open to God because God’s Kingdom is about a community flourishing together, God calls our faith to reach outwards as well as inwards, helping those who need our care.

And that’s why all three are next door to each other, with the door to God in the centre. Because this Christianity thing, it’s all on the same street. You can’t just leave God in a cul-de-sac.

We began our service by reflecting on Psalm 84 and the line about being a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord. If you look at the door to God, it has plants growing beside it and stained glass rippling in the window. It’s the door to life in all its fullness.

We then turned to the gospels and Luke 18: 9-14 where the arrogant Pharisee and the humble tax collector are contrasted with one another. That takes us to our second door. This door with its humble wreath invites us to meet ourselves, to get to know the person God loves. There’s a candle carved in the frame above the door too, a little light of welcome.

Finally we came to the third door, thinking about how we can open the door to one another. If you look at the top you’ll see a lighthouse, a perennial image of refuge and guidance. We are lighthouses to one another, welcoming each other to shore.

This week as we open and close doors in our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our places of study and recreation, let’s think about how we can open the door to God, to ourselves, and one another.

And to just get a last wee thing out of the metaphor, each of these doors has a letterbox. There may be times when opening the door to God might seem like a big ask, but maybe we could drop a note around in the form of a short prayer to God, “I’m here, just thinking of you.” Prayer can take all sorts of forms and it’s fine to just drop God a note.

Now I’d better stop before I start thinking about welcome mats and coat stands and more…

Thanks to Lily for this amazing street and I hope it inspires you to mindfully open doors this week.


James Cathcart


* Stay tuned as we’ll be thinking all about communication in our upcoming New Year theme!

You can catch the service replay and see James and Laura discussing all this and more in our Sunday Live stream.