The other day I was shopping in Costco and saw a display of neon signs for sale. Next to a stack of boxes, there was one sign that was plugged in and turned on. It cheerfully read, “OPEN” in red surrounded by a royal blue border. –This was a typical neon sign that you would see in a restaurant window or put up next to the door in a shop. For a few seconds I imagined what it would be like for our church to have a neon sign like this. I imagined that we could put it in the Chestnut Street Door window and turn it on during the Wednesday Community Lunch. We could also turn it on Sundays for our worship service, during the times when AA and Recovery were having their meetings, and we could even have it turned on during office hours. –It would be a very easily understood message by the public. People are used to having open signs telling them when a business was open for them to come in and purchase things or to order their favorite Chinese entree. For us it could be used to signify that the building was open and that folks could come in for one purpose or another.
But then I thought about the other uses for the word “Open”. Are we as a church actually people who are open? Are we open to the Holy Spirit coming into our lives and inspiring us to actually live as followers of Christ? What would it look like if we as a group of people really strived to be open to the Holy Spirit?
What about our minds? Are our minds open and searching for new and better answers to the questions of our faith? Are we open to new information, new research, new archeological findings, new translations that can be used to build up people’s faith? Or are we closed minded people, determined to keep doing things the way that we have always done because we can’t for a minute imagine that there could be anything new that may be worthwhile?
What about us as a community of people? Are we open to others, to newcomers? Are we open to other’s new perspectives, new cultures, new recipes, new friends? Are we people who are so narrow and closed off that we only concern ourselves with what is happening in Allegan County, Michigan? Or are we open to learning lessons about ourselves and the world from what is happening today in Ferguson, Missouri as well as Syria, Gaza and Israel?
The more that I thought about it, the more I thought that it would be extremely helpful if each of us wore a neon sign around our necks every day. –That way we could turn it on to signify that we were up, awake and open not only to the leading of the Holy Spirit, but open to listening to new ideas, to forming relationships with new people, to learning and growing and becoming who it is that God designed us to be. Those people who were not up to the task of being open to God and others could just turn off their signs, so that people could know to avoid them and to not waste their time offering them their friendship, and their new ideas…
While it would not be cost effective or remotely practical for everyone to purchase and to wear a $79.99 neon sign around their necks, (let alone drag around the extensive combined weight of the sign and its necessary battery pack!), the idea of being “OPEN” in our spirits to the presence of God, and open in our minds to new ideas and to new friendships and relationships is something that we as followers of Christ do need to be trying to do. Every morning we need to choose if we are going to be open to new possibilities and people and let folks and their new ideas come into our lives; or if we are just going to remain closed and lock ourselves and our resources away. Are you going to be open today? I hope so. Amen.