Pentecost 14 – Year A

Have you ever lost your keys? Have you ever left them in the car? Or in the door to your house? Or just plain lost them? I have.

It’s the story of our lives.

We are given keys. And we lose them. And sometimes we feel like we are locked. Locked in, locked out, locked up, locked down – you know what I mean?

It’s the story of our faith.

The Bible tells the story of people who are created and chosen by God, who time and again are given the keys to the kingdom, and they lose them – starting with Adam and Eve, and ending with you and me.

Most of us have forgotten the 612 laws of purity in the Old Testament. Most have forgotten the hundreds of verses of wisdom in the Proverbs and Psalms. Most have even forgotten the 10 commandments and the Beatitudes.

And believe it or not it appears that most modern people don’t even remember the two commandments which Jesus called the greatest.

As Jesus said, the first and greatest commandment is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind; and the second is like unto it, you shall Love your Neighbor as yourself.

For on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

One commandment opens the door of love between you and your God – your creator, your sustainer, your sanctifier, your purpose and your vision. And the second commandment opens the door of love between you and your neighbor – your father, your mother, your sister, your brother, your friend, your enemy.

If everybody in the world remembered just these two holy teachings – the world would look a lot like heaven. Wouldn’t it?

There would be no more wrong. There would be no more violence. There would be no more hunger. Or fear. Or loneliness.

The only things we’d have to worry about are the weather, accidents, and natural death. And even though we’d know natural pains – we would all know hope. For we’d be living so close to the kingdom of heaven, that we’d never fear death for a second.

But like all the other sets of holy keys in the history of the people of God, it seems even these two are forgotten all the time.

I know that I forget to love God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind. And I know that I forget to love my neighbor, and sometimes even myself.

So what are we to do? If we don’t remember our keys to holy living, how will we be o.k.? What can save us from losing our souls along with our keys?

Well, the way I see it, in addition to Jesus’ highly simplified moral code, his small set of keys to holy living, he gave Peter and the apostles and through them to us something stronger.

He gave them a living promise in the form of the Holy Spirit. A living promise that whatever doors are locked in the hearts of men and women can be unlocked by the reconciling power of Christ.

Jesus promised his apostles and through them to us that while we are all destined to forget how we are supposed to live rightly – when we find ourselves locked up, or locked in, or locked down, or locked out – we can open any door if we seek the opening power of God’s grace.

If I forget to show you love – and you lock me out of your heart – Jesus promises that the door can be reopened by repentance and forgiveness between us in the grace of God.

If I forget to love myself – and I lock myself down in depression and self-anger – Jesus promises that the door to self-love can be reopened by self-repentance and self-forgiveness in the grace of God.

If I forget to love God – and I feel locked out of spiritual health — Jesus promises that by turning my face back to God in prayer, the door between us will be wide open.

The power of Christ is not just in the moral lessons of how to be a healthy and holy person.

No, the power of Christ is in the message that because of Christ’s love alone the gates of heaven are not locked!!!

That’s right. The gates of heaven are not locked.

And neither is the heart of the one who loves the Lord God.

Which is why Peter doesn’t have some giant golden key to a locked pearly gate. The only key Peter has is the Good News that “God’s love is so big, his forgiveness is so extreme, his yearning to heal all relationships and all hearts is so vast, that the gate to heaven may be narrow, but it is open to all who seek it.”

And this is the promise of Christ: that all who seek shall find.

Remember this Good News, and you too shall possess the key to heaven.

Amen