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The Complexity of Doors -- Acts 12:1-19 (Sixth Sunday in Easter)




For the seven weeks of the Easter, we have embraced this worship theme: Life from Behind Closed Doors. We’ve moved through the season of Easter at the same time that we have found ourselves moving through a season of pandemic and sheltering in place, living lives, in large part, behind closed doors. And so we have looked to our ancient sisters and brothers and siblings in the faith, and turned to stories in Scripture where they, too, are living behind closed doors, in some way or another – where they, too, are looking for life there – abundant life – Resurrection life.

And what a wealth of stories we have found. We started on Easter with the biggest of all closed doors – the stone rolled in place to close the tomb. But we found it rolled away on Easter morning. At the gaping door of the empty tomb, we found yet more life to live, right now and forever.


The next week, we joined Thomas and the disciples behind closed doors in the shock of their world, and we found there a place to bring our questions and our uncertainty in bewildering times to Jesus.


Then, we gathered behind closed doors with the community of women who were grieving the death of Tabitha, as they remembered all the clothes that she had made for them – all her acts of tender mercy – and in their remembering, she came to life again. And we thought of all those who are sewing masks in our day – tender mercy expressed in the life-giving making and wearing of masks in these days.


Then, we visited the Early Christian community in those first days after Resurrection – and we found them gathered behind closed doorsworshipping in homes – much like we are gathered worshipping in homes -- as they and we create together new ways of living in community.

And for the past two weeks, we’ve thought of how doors can limit the ways that we live life – we have grieved the things we’ve lost for a time – the ability to worship and serve in-person together -- Noah on the ark – the widow and her sons in a time of scarcity, finding their way to abundance – as we pray and live into new ways to live out the things that really matter – new ways to set the banquet table.


Each Sunday has brought a new Scripture with a door, and people living behind it, and a story about how they found their way to life there.


This morning’s Scripture brings us a multiplicity of doors. Door upon door upon door – sometimes keeping people out – sometimes keeping people in – and what we find are people negotiating their way behind and before and around and through these doors.


The first doors we see are the prison doors. Our Scripture opens and yet another Herod has risen to power – the third in the New Testament. He is a despot who acts and reacts based on the mood of the crowd, and he has picked up that the crowd wants to attack the early Christian community, and so he arrests James and Peter; he executes James; and Peter sits here in prison, likely awaiting the same fate. Peter finds himself behind a whole series of doors, the door to his cell, the prison gate.


And not only that, the Scripture details the extent of the security that keeps him there. There