Below is a copy of the sermon I preached on Sunday, May 7, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. You can hear a podcast of the sermon on the Cove Presbyterian Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.
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And without getting into whether or not this is good or even makes sense, the idea of a nation building a wall is hardly new or exciting. I mean, the history of the world is just full of walls. For example, there’s Hadrian’s Wall, built during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian across Great Britain. And then there’s the first Great Wall, you know, the one in China, finished during the Ming Dynasty, measuring 5,500 miles. And how can we forget the Berlin Wall, a concrete barrier build by the East Germans that completely isolated West Berlin from the rest of the country. And of course, for basketball fans among us, there’s John Wall of the Washington Wizards, who scored 24 points Thursday evening in leading his team over the Boston Celtics, but y’all already knew that. And so, I think I’m safe in saying, there are walls all over the place.
And with the exception of John, these walls all have the same purpose. You see, it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about illegal immigrants from Mexico or blue-faced Picts from Scotland, nomadic tribes who wanted to conquer an ancient country or East Berliners who wanted to buy a modern washer/dryer, all these walls were built either to keep something or someone in or to keep something or someone out.
But I’ll tell you, I don’t think this is unique just to these famous barriers. As a matter of fact, I really believe you could expand this purpose to all walls. That’s just want they’re suppose to do. But you know, even though that may be exactly what you want to see happen when you build it, this keeping in and keeping out business can really get you big trouble if you don’t also build into that wall at least one gate or door. I mean, no matter how great the wall is at fulfilling its purpose, there are probably some things that the folks on the inside want to send out, right along with stuff they want to get in. You see, if you don’t put in some kind of portal or entryway, you’ve got to live with what you’ve already got. And for that reason, I’ve never seen a wall that didn’t some kind of gate.
wrong or when we realize that some of those beliefs we’ve carried with us from childhood just don’t make sense in an adult world, I’m telling you, when that happens, well, let’s just say, we’re in big trouble, if there are no gates in our walls.
And like I said just a little while ago, I think this has a lot to say about the kind of walls and gates we construct around ourselves. As a matter of fact, as we build our walls, particularly those that are emotional and intellectually and spiritual, I believe we need to remember two very important things about who Jesus was for them and is for us.
But of course, even if we do, that doesn’t mean that we’ll no longer need walls. No, walls really are important, because, for a variety of reasons, there are some things we may need to keep out just like there are some things we may need to keep in. And I think that’s true whether we’re dealing with stuff that’s physical or with feelings and thoughts and beliefs. But having said that, I think we also need to recognize that it’s probably a mistake to build a barrier without some kind of portal, doing that only leads to stagnation and complacency and isolation. In other words, every wall really needs a gate.
And here’s the good news. Since Jesus said that he is our gate, we can be open to the world, trusting that he’ll protect us. And since Jesus is also the shepherd who leads us flock out, we can decide to follow him out into the world, sharing who we are and what we believe by the words we use and the lives we live. And if we do, in my humble opinion, that would be making the very best use of both the walls and the gates.