The Gospel reading at church this weekend was from Luke (19:1-10), and it was the story about the height-challenged tax collector Zaccheaus who had to climb a tree to see Jesus. Jesus sees Zaccheaus and says “Hey – get on down out of that tree. I’m coming to your house tonight.” (Of course I’m paraphrasing – he probably didn’t actually say “Hey.”) Imagine it, will you, as I did on Sunday morning You’re walking down the street, or wandering the halls of your office or the grocery store, and God comes up to you and says “Hey – let’s go to your house for a while.” How would you react? And in this day and age, would you actually believe that it really was God? I, for one, would love to be able to say “Yes – I’d recognize Him immediately. And, yes – my house is ready to have such a visitor.” But the reality is that I worry whether or not I WOULD recognize Him, and goodness knows we’d like to upgrade the kitchen or at least run the vacuum before He showed up!
Later on in the day, I went back to church to serve at the 5:30 service. As a Lay Eucharistic Minister, my duties for the later services include opening up the church and getting the altar ready. As I was walking through these things, alone in the church, I considered that I was getting another home ready for God and His followers. In the quiet, I carried out the silver tray that was prepared with the bread, wine and water, placed the chalice on the altar, bowed and lit the candles. I looked carefully over the readings that I’d be doing, aware that my “presentation” might be the only time the people in the congregation experienced the scripture that week. Just prior to the service, Father Burtenshaw and I shared a prayer and opened the door. For me, St. Martin’s is an extension of my home, and each time I serve, whether it’s as a Lay Eucharistic Minister or as a member of the Bell Choir, I’m coming down from my tree and inviting God in.
But it’s easier to do that in the Church than it is in the balcony where I live. Preparing my home or my heart for God’s visit needs to be an intentional thing. It takes work, just like preparing the church for a service takes work. And up here in the balcony, it’s hard to be intentional sometimes, isn’t it? I’ve got to take the dog out, get the kids to school, do my work, get some sleep… And in the midst of all of this noise, I neglect to make sure my home (heart) is ready for God, whenever He shows up – or more accurately, whenever I remember to look and see that He’s already there. This week, I’m going to try to get down out of the tree and work on my house, so that whenever I hear the call, I can say “here I am” and not “hold on a minute, I’ve got to mop the kitchen floor!”