Editor’s note: This is the fourth post in a four-part series on objects from church that shed light on the spiritual practice of waiting this Advent.

“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock,
and the door will be opened for you.”  — Matthew 7:7

The door opened. In that moment relief washed over me as my hopes were met.

Throughout the day my hope was to find my final destination and have a place to lay my head. After traveling for a week in West Africa, I was on the way back to my Peace Corps village. My resting place for this night was the home of a friend of a friend in a village I had never been to in a country whose language I didn’t speak.

Darkness had descended by the time I reached the town in which I hoped to find rest. With lots of hand gestures, I asked how to reach my host’s home. After what seemed like hours, I was finally escorted to the home. My bones ached, my clothes were filthy, and my body was weary; I just wanted to go to sleep. Walking to the door I hoped and prayed I’d have a place to sleep.

I waited and soon the door opened.

My host greeted me with the words: Peace be with you. Welcome.

***

For as long as I can remember, I’ve opened Advent calendars—the chocolate-filled ones. Day after day I would find the number, countdown to Christmas, and enjoy a piece of chocolate. As a child, I knew I would find a piece of chocolate every day, yet I was still surprised and delighted to find that bit of sweetness every morning.

Opening a chocolate-filled door isn’t the same as waiting for a door to be opened when you’re weary and tired. Yet when I open an Advent calendar each year, I reflect on all the doors we open.

We open doors for friends and family.
We open our doors in hospitality to feed neighbors.
We open the doors of the church hoping whoever walks through will know they are loved and welcomed.
We open the doors of our hearts so that joy and peace can fill us.

But what of the doors that have been opened for us?

In a few short days we’ll know intimately and deeply what it feels like when a door is opened for us. A door that unlocks all the hopes and dreams needed for this world. A door that opens so that no one has to be excluded. A door that brings us comfort and peace.

In this fourth week of Advent, we are so close to the culmination of the season’s waiting. With the candles lit, the bells ringing and the pews supporting us, our hopes and expectations are rising.

We stand at the door, waiting.

We wait at the stable door hoping to get a glimpse of the Christ child.
We wait at the door that opens and says to each of us: Peace be with you. Welcome.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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