“Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’?”
Luke 11:5-6 (RSV)
It may seem like a simple invention, but it can be extremely helpful. It is not often that we consider something so small as being crucial to our safety and security. Franz Laibace applied for a patent for this device believing it to provide a protective measure for a homeowner or business owner. It was designed to offer the ability to know who is at the door without actually opening the door. I cannot even imagine having a front door without one of these devices. The device is, of course, the peephole.
The invention of the peephole was a simple, but very important invention to help us know who is at the door.
It is important to know who is at the door. How many of us would be willing to open the door at midnight without knowing who was at the door? I don’t think that many, if not any, of us would do so in this day and age. In fact, a lot of us would not only need to look through the peephole but also turn on the lights, turn off the alarm, and silence the dog before we would open the door. It may seem like the only consideration we may have would be the safety of ourselves, our home, or our family. I think there is also at least one other consideration we should have when considering who is at the door.
In his sermon, "A Knock At Midnight," Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. considers the fact that we need to consider who is at the door at midnight. The main idea of his sermon is that the person who is knocking at the door is someone in need. You know that you are in need, perhaps desperate need, if you are willing to go to your neighbor’s house at midnight and knock on their door. In the parable of Jesus there is a definite sense of urgency to the need. Not only is it midnight, but the person who is knocking continues to knock persistently. Jesus even says it is not his request nor his friendship that the person inside responds to, it is his persistence. Those who are in desperate need tend to knock louder and longer than those who are not in need.
The question for us in this parable is do we know who is at the door? Dr. King reminded folks in 1963 that it was midnight in many areas of the world, especially race relations. It is still midnight in many areas of our world today. There are those in desperate need who continue to knock at the door of the church in the midnight hour of our society. Do we as a church, and as individuals, know who is at the door? These are the folks who are in need and are left outside of society and the church at the midnight hour to knock at the door. They knock because they are in need. They knock because they are asking for help. They knock because they are in search of hope. These are our neighbors who are looking for us to be their neighbor.
Jesus is sharing this parable to demonstrate the power of persistent prayer for sure. Jesus is also demonstrating what it means to be a neighbor and respond to the needs of a friend (neighbor). A neighbor puts others first, losing themselves in the priority of service. A neighbor also notices who is at the door and what their need is and is willing to respond, if for no other reason than their persistence. A neighbor determines to make sure that no one is left outside the door at midnight, turned away without their needs being met. Jesus goes on to say that God, the Father, would never do that to us. We should never do that to our neighbor.
This Sunday we will continue the message series My Neighbor. We will be discussing more about who our neighbor is and how we can know who is at the door. I can’t wait to share this with you Sunday.
There are great things coming for St. Andrew’s in 2017 and it’s an exciting time. The best is yet to come. I can’t wait to see you in church!