“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” -II Corinthians 5:18
I have always been fascinated with doors. I know, it’s a strange curiosity.
I’m not certain when it began, or what birthed my special interest. Perhaps my father’s owning a locksmith shop when I was a child, or my general love of architecture? Regardless of the cause, I started taking pictures of doors 30 years ago. I have probably snapped thousands over the years. Maybe I will write a book someday that includes stories behind the more interesting ones.
Doors garner crossover points between worlds. Some are large and heavy. Others are small and light. And some are colorful and ornate; while others are utilitarian and unimpressive.
Regardless, each one marks a transition from one world to another; passages between rooms or the street and one’s home. They protect from intruders. They allow for modesty and hiding things one doesn’t want to be seen. They announce to onlookers, “you are not welcome”. Maybe that’s where the tradition of the welcome mat comes from- to diffuse the uninviting nature of the ominous obstruction hung over billions of thresholds.
On my way home from meetings with the Concentric Executive Team in Vienna, I had a twenty-four-hour layover in Dublin, Ireland. To maximize the time, I set up a meeting with one of our ministry leaders in the city. After the meeting, I had time to do some site seeing on what turned into an 18-mile walk down Dublin’s narrow streets.
Of course, I took photos of doors. Dublin’s most fascinating door hangs inside Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. It no longer serves its’ original purpose. What is known today as the Door of Reconciliation, hangs within the sanctuary of this famous church, in a gallery exhibit for historic artifacts?
Its story dates back to 1492 when two feuding families, the Butlers of Ormonde and the Fitzgeralds of Kildare, were engaged in a bloody battle. Sensing their impending defeat, the Butlers fled and sought sanctuary in Saint Pat’s Cathedral Chapter House. The Fitzgeralds pursued them onto the church’s ground, but upon approaching the door of the house that protected their adversaries, they decided it was time to propose a truce. Too much blood had been shed and the feud needed to be dissolved.
Calling through the door, the head of the Fitzgerald family, Gerald, offered safe passage from Dublin to his foes. But the Butlers refused his offer, believing it to be a trap.
To prove his sincerity, Gerald had his men cut a hole in the door, and he thrust his arm through the hole offering it in peace.
Convinced by his gesture, the Butler clan leader shook his hand and left Dublin in peace.
Today, this tale lives on in the famous expression, “to chance your arm”, meaning: “to take a risk”.
Reconciliation is something our world needs desperately. Tensions are at a high in many parts of the world. There’s a lot of proverbial door slamming happening. Unfortunately, we are experiencing this climate in many countries.
The world stares on in perplexity. Varying ideologies, views on climate, politics, gender, plastic or paper (no, bring your own bag from home), etc, are defining boundaries between what seems to be feuding clans on the edge of bloodshed.
We seem to have more things to divide us as a people than to bring us together. And unfortunately, it’s often no different in the church. But we should save that for another conversation.
2000 years ago, God walked through the door of heaven to Earth, in the form of a little child- Immanuel. He entered our world with salvation through sacrifice, life through death, and a gift of reconciliation for us to the Father by stretching out his arms. He brought us the opportunity of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness and self control. And He provided the means for unity through His Spirit, and New Life through His blood.
News of His entrance is timely for today. In 2 Corinthians 5:18 Paul tells us that we have been “given a ministry of reconciliation” to extend to others.
…back to doors. What doors stand in front of you today? What opportunities exist in front of you to bring God’s reconciliation message to others?
Over this past year, God has given me the opportunity to invest in leaders from over 45 countries and witnessed His work of reconciliation. I have been given the privilege of playing a small part in equipping indigenous saints-leaders to bring His hope to their people and create disciple-making movements to spread the Good News.