Ever heard that cliche "when one door closes, another door opens?"
Ugh. Give me a break.
It's not that the phrase in and of itself is worthless and perhaps this cliche has delivered you some relief in the past. But I know for me, and others I've talked to, this little limerick comes rolling off the tongue of some well-meaning friend or interloper right when you've received a dump truck's load of rejection, missed opportunity, or some other bad news. It just rings hollow.
The school rejected you. He dumped you. The job promotion got passed to her instead of you. I know, it sucks. And the last thing you want to hear? Some cream-puffy, cloud-fluffy, nonsense about your life being a series of doors or windows...or whatever...that some heavenly being is fatefully opening or shutting on you as you try each door, test each lock, jiggle each handle in wave-after-wave of dejection, denial, and seemingly divine deception.
What kind of God plays that stupid game anyways? Is that really what God is all about? Closing doors and opening others? Prompting us through some celestial cheese maze? Maybe, maybe not.
At least in this antiphon, he's about opening doors. Wide. That's what we are going to focus on today.
O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel, You open and no one can close, You close and no one can open: Come and rescue the prisoners who are in darkness and the shadow of death.
O clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel: qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris.
Yes, God closes doors. He shuts them. But this verse ends on liberation. It's denouement is divine pardon. The lock clicks in favor of the captive. The gate swings wide open. Freedom.
I can't help but think of my dog Pepper at this moment. When we take her to the dog park or we let her outside she sits in a mix of anticipation and longing...waiting for the moment the door opens and independence is hers. When the sliding glass door runs its course backwards or the chain link fence gate creaks on its hinges and provides the open pathway she's gone. Zoom. Like a flash of white lightning across the grass. She barks. She jumps. She chases squirrels. We call out to her as she pushes the boundaries, tests the limits of her rein. She's free and she loves it.
My favorite moment? When she has run her course a bit and she comes trotting back up to us, tongue laggard and panting, with a smile that says, "Thank you guys. I love you."
Is it just me or is there a picture of a divine covenant here? The Key of David opens the door that no one closes. He permits us to go free. He unleashes us. We push boundaries. We chase the metaphorical squirrels of this life. He calls out to us, in love and reprimand, but we always run back in gasping adoration to the one we know has set us free.
I pray that is what this Christmas is for you. For me. That in the freedom that the Key of David has given us we might circle back to enjoy the presence of the Master - "to thank the Lord and sing his praise" (Ps 92).
Amen. Come, you peoples of the earth, come.