This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not “what does it say?” but “what am I looking for?” I suspect Jesus knew this when he said, “ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” — Rachel Held Evans
Why are you knocking at every door? Go, knock at the door of your own heart. — Rumi
On the other hand, ‘Knock and it shall be opened.’ But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac? — C.S. Lewis
The moment we begin to seek out love, love begins to seek us out. And to save us. — Paulo Coelho
Always the beautiful answer / who asks a more beautiful question. —e.e. Cummings
Contextually speaking, love is the narrow gate. — Jayson Bradley
We often remain exiles, left outside the rich world of the soul, simply because we are not ready. Our task is to refine our hearts and minds. There is so much blessing and beauty near us that is destined for us, and yet it cannot enter our lives because we are not ready to receive it. The handle is on the inside of the door; only we can open it. Our lack of readiness is often caused by blindness, fear, and lack of self-appreciation. When we are ready, we will be blessed. — John O’Donohue
SONGS about KNOCKING & ASKING:
- Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Guns n Roses (rock anthem)
- Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan (rock anthem)
- First by Lauren Daigle (Christian)
- Hide and Seek cover by virtual choir of song by Imogen Heap (pop ballad)
- Let ‘Em In by Paul McCartney (rock)
- Find My Way by Fearless Soul (pop ballad)
- I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking by U2 & Gospel Choir (Christian rock)
- Knocking at the Door by The Arkells (rock anthem)
- Knock on Wood by James Taylor (pop/folk)
- Ask Seek Knock by Hillsong Kids (Christian)
- Keep A’Knockin’ by Louis Jordan (big band)
- A Love Like Yours by Martha & The Vandellas (rock)
- I Hear You Knocking by Dave Edmunds (rock)
- Can’t You Hear Me Knocking? by Rolling Stones (rock)
- It’ll Be Me by Jerry Lee Lewis (rock)
- Keep a Knockin’ by Little Richard (rock)
- Don’t Come Knockin by Fats Domino (rock)
- Crazy Little Mama Come Knockin‘ by Pat Boone (rock)
- What if I Came Knocking? by John Mellencamp (rock/country)
- Love Is Knocking by Petit Cheval (rock)
- Who Can It Be Now? by Men at Work (rock)
- Knock On Any Door by Jackson Browne (rock ballad)
Resource for more listening and studying: Podcast about Ask and You Will Receive (from BibleProject)
Blessing the Door — Jan Richardson (link to poem)
First let us say / a blessing
upon all who have / entered here before / us.
You can see the sign / of their passage / by the worn place
where their hand rested / on the doorframe
as they walked through, / the smooth sill
of the threshold / where they crossed.
Press your ear / to the door
for a moment before / you enter
and you will hear / their voices murmuring
words you cannot / quite make out
but know / are full of welcome.
On the other side / these ones who wait—
for you, / if you do not / know by now—
understand what / a blessing can do
how it appears like / nothing you expected
how it arrives as / visitor,
outrageous invitation, / child;
how it takes the form / of angel / or dream
how it comes / in words like
How can this be? / and lifted up the lowly;
how it sounds like / in the wilderness / prepare the way.
Those who wait / for you know
how the mark of / a true blessing
is that it will take you / where you did not / think to go.
Once through this door / there will be more:
more doors / more blessings
more who watch and / wait for you
but here / at this door of / beginning
the blessing cannot / be said without you.
So lay your palm / against the frame
that those before you / touched
place your feet / where others paused / in this entryway.
Say the thing that / you most need
and the door will / open wide
and by this word / the door is blessed
and by this word / the blessing is begun
from which / door by door
all the rest / will come.
Text from which we’re drawing this week’s themes: MATTHEW 7: 7-14
Ask, Seek, Knock – ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.’
‘Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.’
The Golden Rule – In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.’
The Narrow Gate – ‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’
Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.
COMMENTARY on ENTERING through the NARROW GATE
It’s a life long “finding,” of surrendering to the process of God at work in us. But WE choose that posture of surrender. We choose to open the gate and walk upon the narrow road. And really, what other choice is there to make? —Elisabeth Elliott (full article)
Do for others what you wish others would do for you. Do you want to be treated with respect? Respect others. Do you expect compassion and the benefit of the doubt? Extend it to others. Do you want to be served? Serve others. He then tells us this one principle sums up the entire Old Testament. … Contextually speaking, love is the narrow gate ... All the destruction, pain and turmoil in life comes from our inability to put others first. Love leads to life, both here and in the world to come. —Jayson Bradley, Patheos (full article)
The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation, the mystery we’re examining, more often happens not when something new begins, but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart—chaos—invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites, and sometimes forces, the soul to go to a new place because the old place is falling apart. Most of us would never go to new places in any other way…. This is when you need patience, guidance, and the freedom to let go instead of tightening your controls and certitudes. Perhaps Jesus is describing this phenomenon when he says, “It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” … In moments of insecurity and crisis, shoulds and oughts don’t really help; they just increase the shame, guilt, pressure, and likelihood of backsliding. It’s the deep yesses that carry us through. It’s that deeper something we are strongly for that allows us to wait it out. — Richard Rohr (full article)
Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form, without filters, judgments, and commentaries. Now you see why it is so rare and, in fact, “the narrow road that few walk on” … The only way you can contemplate is by recognizing and relativizing your own compulsive mental grids—your practiced ways of judging, critiquing, blocking, and computing everything… When your mental judgmental grid and all its commentaries are placed aside, God finally has a chance to get through to you, because your pettiness is at last out of the way. Then Truth stands revealed! You will begin to recognize that we all carry the Divine Indwelling within us and we all carry it equally. That will change your theology, your politics, and your entire worldview. In fact, it is the very birth of the soul. — Richard Rohr (full article)
I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside. — Rumi
ON KNOCKING at DOORS
If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you’re sure to wake someone up. — Henry Wordsworth Longfellow
The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people, from a Christian community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ; in the poor brother Christ is knocking at the door. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Go to your bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know. — William Shakespeare
Even when opportunity knocks, a man still has to get up off his seat and open the door. — Douglas MacArthur
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. — Proverb (attributed to Milton Berle)
A pessimist is somebody who complains about the noise when opportunity knocks. — Oscar Wilde
The most sacred invitation that a person can extend to us is to invite us into their pain. But that means that we have to choose to knock on a door that we often prefer to pretend is not there. ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
Rain puts a hole in stone because of its constancy, not its force. Just keep knocking on doors until the right one opens — Joseph Gerber
Opportunity may knock only once but temptation leans on the door bell — Oprah Winfrey
The first time when I was organizing, I went out and started knocking on doors to see if people were registered to vote. I was a door knocker. I didn’t even have the confidence that I could register people, so I just was out there door knocking. That was my first experience. — Dolores Huerta
Guest House — Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Love seeks only one thing: the good of the loved. It leaves all other secondary effects to take care of themselves. There, love is its own reward. — Thomas Merton
There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself. ― Lemony Snicket
I go to seek a Great Perhaps. That’s why I’m going. So I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.― John Green
And I shall seek you endlessly, for
I am a moth, and you’re my flame
Knowing that I’ll burn at your touch
I return, for you’re a fire; untamed …
― Zubair Ahsan
…there was no point in sighing after what I could not have. It only distracted me from what I did have. ― Robin Hobb
Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable. ― Albert Camus
Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds — justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner. ― Anne Rice
Thus Gotama [Buddha] walked toward the town to gather alms, and the two samanas recognized him solely by the perfection of his repose, by the calmness of his figure, in which there was no trace of seeking, desiring, imitating, or striving, only light and peace. ― Hermann Hesse
WHEN TRUTH KNOCKS: Buddhist Story
A young widower was devoted to his little son. But while he was away on business, the whole village was burned to the ground by bandits, who also kidnapped the little boy. When the father returned and found only ruins, he was utterly heartbroken. He thought that the charred remains of a little child were of his son, so he organized a full cremation, collected the ashes, and carried them with him always in a special bag.
One day, his son managed to escape from the bandit kidnappers and made his way back to his home. In the meantime, his father had rebuilt the house. When the little boy arrived late one night, he knocked on the door. His father, kneeling at the altar he had made to memorialize his son called out, “Who’s there?”
“It’s me, your son; please papa, let me in!”
The father, still burdened by his grief thought this must be some wretched boy making fun of his grieving and shouted out, “Go away! Leave me alone! My son is dead!”
The boy knocked again and again, calling for his father to open the door and let him in. The father, refusing to answer the door kept calling out, “Go away! Leave me alone!” And at last, the boy gave up and went away, never to return again.
After he had told this story, the Buddha added: “If you cling to an idea as the unalterable truth, then when the truth comes and knocks on your door, you will not be able to open the door and accept it.”
COMMENTARY on KNOCKING & ASKING
The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people, from a Christian community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ; in the poor brother Christ is knocking at the door. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
It seems to me that Jesus’ words are a clear directive. Ask, Jesus says. Seek. Knock.
And then, if I’ve got this right, Jesus follows up a few verses later by saying that God will actually respond … To me. To you. To, oh, anyone who asks. And God will do it without discretion or conditions. Without caution or prudence. Without making a list first of who has a right to which truth or who will handle the answers the best.
The revolutionary, almost subversive, thing about asking is that it goes beyond making it OK to have secret questions and inner doubts and gives us permission to raise our hands in God’s classroom with a “Pardon me, but I don’t get it.” Or “Really, God? Can you explain further?” Or “I just can’t bring myself to believe what the rest of your class is telling me.”
I suspect … that we’re somehow expected to keep asking. Out loud. And to keep seeking. And to keep knocking …
… questions fall out all over the place, raw and beautiful in their authenticity … making people uncomfortable – or giddy … the way we engage our conversations may be more important than our conclusions, for if we abandon love, kindness, forbearance and gentleness in favor of fear, self-righteousness and anger, what have we gained with a mere conclusion? And the second thing she said is I wonder if we trust Jesus to be enough?
…. “What if the root word of aspiration isn’t only to aspire to? What if the root word of aspiration is also to aspirate? To expel or dislodge the things that make people choke? To tell a truth that is so wild and so free that it helps people learn to breathe? What if you’re called to be that kind of aspiration?” And I thought, by God, if this life is about helping people breathe, I can do that.
Ask. Seek. Knock. Breathe.
I used to prefer for God to live in a box. Neat and tidy. Quiet and nice. Now my life is full of questions. It’s messier and louder, more disruptive and fulfilling, than I imagined. And I? I can finally breathe. — Betth Woolsey (full article)
Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels — welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?
… He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: ‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’ I know. Does that make it easier to understand?
… Of course it’s easy enough to say that God seems absent at our greatest need because He is absent — non-existent. But then why does He seem so present when, to put it frankly, we don’t ask for Him?
… And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually come to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help … Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear. — C.S. Lewis (article)
Mystery is what happens to us when we allow life to evolve rather than having to make it happen all the time. It is the strange knock at the door, the sudden sight of an unceremoniously blooming flower, an afternoon in the yard, a day of riding the midtown bus. Just to see. Just to notice. Just to be there. There is something holy-making about simply presuming that what happens to us in any given day is sent to awaken our souls to something new: another smell, a different taste, a moment when we allow ourselves to lock eyes with a stranger, to smile a bit, to nod our heads in greeting. Who knows? Maybe one of those things will open us to the refreshing memory of pain, a poignant reminder of glory, a breathless moment of astonishment, a sense of the presence of God in life. — Sr Joan Chittister (full article)
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. — Brene Brown
Ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong. — Les Brown
I was looking for myself and asking everyone but myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. — Ralph Ellison
A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something—and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change. — Warren Berger
Don’t be afraid to look again at everything you’ve ever believed … I believe the more we search, the more we delve into the human teachings about the nature and God of life, which are in fact are the teachings of all the great religions traditions, the closer we come to a mature understanding of the Godself … In other words, doubt, questions, drive us to look at how we ourselves need to grow in wisdom, age and grace. The courage to face questions is the first step in that process. — Joan Chittister
Instead of anxiety about chasing a passion that you’re not even feeling, do something a lot simpler: Just follow your curiosity. — Elizabeth Gilbert
A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea. — John Anthony Ciardi
We live in the world our questions create. — David Cooperrider
Ask me not what I have, but what I am. — Heirnrich Heine
… Ask yourself these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now? — James Allen
You get in life what you have the courage to ask for. — Oprah Winfrey
Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future. — Deepak Chopra
To ask the right question is harder than to answer it. — Georg Cantor
Contrary to some common assumptions, Jesus is not the ultimate Answer Man, but more like the Great Questioner. In the Gospels Jesus asks many more questions than he answers. To be precise, Jesus asks 307 questions. He is asked 183 of which he only answers 3. Asking questions was central to Jesus’ life and teachings. In fact, for every question he answers directly he asks—literally—a hundred. Jesus is the Question considers the questions Jesus asks—what they tell us about Jesus and, more important, what our responses might say about what it means to follow Him. Through Jesus’ questions, he modeled the struggle, the wondering, the thinking it through that helps us draw closer to God and better understand, not just the answer, but ourselves, our process and ultimately why questions are among Jesus’ most profound gifts for a life of faith. — Martin Copenhaver
Seek not greater wealth, but simpler pleasure; not higher fortune, but deeper felicity. — Mahatma Gandhi
You are searching the world for treasure, but the real treasure is yourself. — Rumi
When he returned home to France, [Lafayette] lived on his big estates and did very well. He was in the same social class as the rich man in Jesus’ parable … In 1783, after a poor harvest, Lafayette’s workers were still able to fill his barns with wheat. “The bad harvest has raised the price of wheat,” said one of his workers. “This is the time to sell.” Lafayette thought about the hungry peasants in the surrounding villages. “No,” he replied, “this is the time to give.” — A story about the Marquis de Lafayette, who helped the American colonists during our War of Independence from Britain, 18th century (published as part of UCC commentary on Luke 12)
- What are idols? (PS: Rev Gail says they are: obsessions, addictions or passions that are out of balance in our lives because we focus time and treasures in ways that prevent us from putting energy and love where it belongs: with Godself, in just and compassionate human relationships [family & neighbors as defined by Christ] and into sustainable connection to creation.)
- What idols has faith and ethics — holy Love — helped us give up?
- What idols still have a hold in our individual and communal lives?
… the parable … doesn’t warn against money, wealth, or material abundance … warns against greed, about the insatiable feeling of never having enough. And the parable … illustrates this. The farmer’s problem isn’t that he’s had a great harvest, or that he’s rich, or that he wants to plan for the future. The farmer’s problem is that his good fortune has curved his vision so that everything he sees starts and ends with himself. — David Lose
Treasures: What Do We Cherish?
Stories hold us together. Stories teach us what is important about life, why we are here and how it is best to behave, and that inside us we have access to treasure, in memories and observations, in imagination. — Anne Lamott
I find that it’s essential during the day to actually note when I feel happiness or when something positive happens, and begin to cherish those moments as precious. Gradually we can begin to cherish the preciousness of our whole life just as it is, with its ups and downs, its failures and successes, its roughness and smoothness. — Pema Chodron
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed. — Mahatma Gandhi
Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you. — Oscar Wilde
It occupies me … to exhaust the fund of sentimental treasure, which the Divine spirit poured into my mind. it was, indeed, a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. — Zilpah Elaw
… the problem isn’t … money but our penchant to look to money, rather than to God and each other, for life. — David Lose
I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money. — Pablo Picasso
There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
There is no wealth but life. — John Ruskin, The King of the Golden River
Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. — Epictetus
He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have. — Socrates
He who is greedy is always in want. — Horace
To be wealthy and honored in an unjust society is a disgrace. — Confucius, The Analects
Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, the wonder of our breathing. — Thich Nhat Hanh
Legacy: What Do We Leave Behind?
Are we really planning prudently? What gives our life meaning now, and what will give it meaning then? — Culpepper
At the end, all that’s left of you are your possessions. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never been able to throw anything away. Perhaps that’s why I hoarded the world: with the hope that when I died, the sum total of my things would suggest a life larger than the one I lived. — Nicole Krauss, The History of Love
Fear of death increases in exact proportion to increase in wealth. — Ernest Hemingway
God’s people are not to accumulate stuff for tomorrow but to share indiscriminately with the scandalous and holy confidence that God will provide for tomorrow. Then we need not stockpile stuff in barns or a 401(k), especially when there is someone in need. — Shane Claiborne, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?
It’s never a question of skin pigmentation. It’s never a question of just culture or sexual orientation or civilization. It’s what kind of human being you’re going to choose to be from your mama’s womb to the tomb and what kind of legacy will you leave. — Cornel West
I get asked a lot about my legacy. For me, it’s being a good teammate, having the respect of my teammates, having the respect of the coaches and players. That’s important to me. — Peyton Manning
Humanity’s legacy of stories and storytelling is the most precious we have. All wisdom is in our stories and songs. A story is how we construct our experiences. — Doris Lessing
I’m not interested in my legacy. I made up a word: ‘live-acy.’ I’m more interested in living. — John Glenn
I think the whole world is dying to hear someone say, ‘I love you.’ I think that if I can leave the legacy of love and passion in the world, then I think I’ve done my job in a world that’s getting colder and colder by the day. — Lionel Richie