Yesterday was the first day of school at the pre-school associated with my church. It was also the first day of first grade for a small group of students, as we have decided to venture just rung up into grade school this year.
The school offers day care as well as school, so parents begin arriving early. I had committed to be over at the school to welcome children and parents by 7:00 a.m., although after a busy Sunday morning and evening, that seemed more difficult to achieve.
I walked in a few minutes after 7:00, looking "casually pastoral". I remembered last year being hectic, with many new students needing signatures and forms. It seemed much more laid back yesterday morning, and I was wandering the hallways and wondering what to do when the skies outdoors opened up and it began to pour.
I watched as beleaguered parents arrived, trying to juggle children, umbrellas, diapers, mats for napping and assorted accessories for the school year. It then became clear what my job was going to be this morning: opening the door.
It was a simple, and as necessary, as that. I picked up fallen items on occasion, held some hands, greeted people and held the door open. I recognized old friends, cheered for the new first graders, pointed a few people in the direction of the school administrator, who could give directions to the right classroom. And once (and this made my day) I got my picture taken with a new kindergarten student. (Really, that moment was worth showing up for.) But mostly, I just held the door open, and smiled.
It was enough.
Maybe that's what I do, after all: hold the door open. Maybe behind all of the fancy theology and studying, what I am called to do is to hold the door open so that people can walk in to the grace and goodness of God. It's not me: it's something beyond me and behind me, although I hope the Holy Spirit is also within me. When I open the door to the pre-school, when I open my communion kit and take out the little cups, when I open up my own flawed life and share a a testimony, when I open my hands to serve -- I am holding the door open.
I'd like to say that this is uniquely part of my vocation as a pastor, but I know it isn't true. We are all called to do it, although in different ways. We are all called to hold the door open for one another, so that we can walk into the grace and mercy of God. And we all need to have the door opened for us -- no one can do it on their own -- even me.
As it turns out, I never stop going back to school -- and the children are my teachers, who hold the door open for me.