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people of praise

The curtain is down; God is inviting you in

Schamehorn

Sometime back, my wife and I took our son on a trip to Washington, D.C. While there we visited many sites.

The one site we were really looking forward to was a tour of the White House. We stood outside looking through the fence anticipating our time to enter.

We turned toward the entrance hurriedly to go in. We were hoping to meet the president. Maybe there would be time to discuss a few matters with him. So with a smile on our faces we approached the front gate. “We would like to tour the White House and see the president please,” we announced.

The guard asked for our name and we gave it. He looked at us and said, “ I am sorry, no one may go in. The president is hosting the president of Colombia and no one is allowed to enter.”

“But we came all the way from Fort Wayne, Ind.,” we said. “Sorry,” he said. So we sighed and prepared to return home. What a disappointment.

We were so close. Had the president stepped out on the lawn, we could have waved. Maybe he would have waved back. We were so close to the entrance to the White House, but we might just as well have been miles away. There were too many barriers. There was the barrier of time (the president is too busy). Barrier of status (we had no clout). Yes, we had nothing going for us.

Our entrance just wasn’t going to happen unless the commander in chief took the initiative. Unless he, spotting us on the sidewalk, said to the security detail, “See those people on the sidewalk, go tell them I’d like to talk with them for a minute.”

Wow! Now that changes things.

The gate would have swung open. All barriers would have been down.We would have felt special and chosen. Why? Because the man up there saw us down below and invited us in.

Well, we all know that wasn’t going to happen. No invitation was going to arrive.

But when it comes to God, just walk on in, the invitation has been delivered. God has spotted you. He has heard you, and he has invited you. What once separated you has been removed. “Now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away from God are brought near” (Ephesians 2:13).

Nothing remains between you and God but an open door.

But how could this be? If we can’t get in to see the president, how could we be granted an audience with God? In a word, someone opened the curtain. Something happened in the death of Christ that opened the door for you and me.

We are told in Luke 23:44-45, “It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.

What did the torn curtain mean? For the Jews it meant no more barrier between them and the holy of holies. The barrier that had been present for centuries keeping the Jews from the most holy place had been torn down. No more priests to go between them and God. No more animal sacrifices to atone for their sins.

And for us? What did the torn curtain signify for us? A lot. We are welcome to come into God’s presence – any day, any time. God has removed the barrier that separates us from him. The barrier of sin? Down. He has removed the curtain.

Of course, we have to make sure we don’t try to put the barrier back up. Have we made mistakes? Do we have regrets? Sure, we have all failed to love God with our whole being and failed to love our neighbor as ourself as Jesus taught us. The Bible calls that sin.

Maybe somewhere, sometime you got tangled up in the garbage, and you have been avoiding God, perhaps fearing the consequences of your sin. Maybe you have allowed a veil of guilt to come between you and your loving father.

The good news is, God is not standing over you with a hammer. God is not avoiding you; the curtain is down and God invites you in.

Trust the cross not your conscience. The veil is down and God waits with open arms to welcome you home.

The Rev. Phil Schamehorn is interim pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ligonier. If you are interested in submitting a column (750 words or less), send it to Terri Richardson, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email trich@jg.net. Please include your name, religious organization and a phone number where you can be reached. For more information, call 461-8304.

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