Monday, March 17, 2008

Access Granted: Holy Week Monday

Therefore since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus. . . let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith (Hebrews 10:19-22).

For a number of schools in the area this is spring break week. Not for my kids. We did that a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have a clue as to the thinking process that guides school administrators as they schedule spring break. I simply put it on my calendar and wait for the plan. This year it was Washington, D.C.

Thanks to the generous efforts of a friend, we were able to get an appointment for a White House tour. This was a first for me. I hate to admit it, but I did a summer internship in D.C. back in my college days and somehow never made it to the White House. I don’t understand the thinking process that went into that either. But that youthful oversight was remedied on spring break. On Tuesday of the week at 10:00 a.m. we were waiting at the southeast gate ready to go.

And suddenly I was in seventh grade again. As a seventh grader I was in awe of the United States Secret Service. I had every intention of joining their ranks someday. I had seen President Gerald Ford on one occasion and the excitement of seeing the President didn’t come close to seeing the secret service in action. Very serious, almost edgy. Every move deliberate, alive to every detail of their surroundings, all business.

And they were all over the White House. Many in uniform, some not. There’s so much to see in the White House, but for all there is to see one thing is very clear. There’s much that you cannot see, plenty of places you cannot go. A labyrinth of velvet roping and well placed stanchions guide your walk through the White House. Our guide pointed to the foot of a staircase that led up to the President’s residence. The Secret Service had two people posted there. Again, very serious. The message was clear. Don’t even think about approaching these stairs. Access denied.

On Monday of the last week of his life, Jesus went into the temple and overturned the tables of money changers (Mark 11:12-19). The provoking issue: access to the holy place and the Holy One. Pilgrims from everywhere made their way to Jerusalem and to the temple. The temple was to be a house of prayer for all nations, a place to meet with God. The money changers were making access difficult, expensive. In both word and deed that day Jesus made a bold statement about God. Access granted.

And when he died on Friday of the week, the same message was conveyed as the temple veil, the barrier that marked the Holy of Holies, was torn in two from top to bottom. Access granted. In the White House I saw brave people who would die to keep me out.
This week we see a man who dies to bring us in. Access granted.

For Today:
Do you come to God with confidence, knowing that God expects you, knowing that you are welcomed into God’s presence? How does this access shape your prayers?

Thank you Jesus for opening the way to the Father. Thank you for removing the barriers that distance us from our creator: our own sense of unworthiness, our misguided notions of God’s character. Teach us to live in the confidence that comes from being free to boldly enter the most holy place at any time by the presence of your Spirit with us. Amen.

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