The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all. ~Frederick Buechner

Standing at the Door

At the end of her sermon a few weeks ago, Wendi Kaiser spoke the words of Revelation 3:20 “Here I am, I stand at the door and I knock, and if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and I will eat with that person, and they with Me.”

This verse jumped out at me because the day before, I had stood at the door of our group dorm and knocked. The Syrian refugee family that we were hosting had invited me over for coffee and so I went to the door and knocked. But no one answered.

I went home and texted Ihab, but I didn’t know if she would understand what I had texted in English and I hadn’t yet downloaded an Arabic keyboard on my phone and even then I would have had to rely on online translations that were iffy at best.

Later that day, I decided to try again. So I stood at the door and I knocked. This time, someone opened the door and had me come in. So now here I was, in my own space, being hosted by strangers who were living there. This family has 7 children—triplets in the middle with 2 older and 2 younger siblings on either side. I sat down and there appeared a plate full of baklava right in front of me.

Though they were refugees and had been in the country less than a week, they were making me Turkish coffee and feeding me baklava that the grandma had gotten in Jordan. We’re going around the room and I was trying to learn everyone’s names and I was eating baklava and drinking cardamom flavored caffeinated goodness. We are all laughing at the language barrier and enjoying our time.

I realized that no one else has had any baklava, so I offered some to one of the kids nearby. She looks across at her mom who shakes her head, and says to me, “For you. All for you.”

This is the moment that comes flooding back to me as Wendi reads that beloved verse. “I will come in and I will eat with that person, and they with Me.” No one was eating with me. I was some sort of honored guest, but we weren’t sharing a meal as friends, as equals, and I hadn’t done anything except say yes to the refugee organization that needed emergency housing and had given them a key.

Jesus deserves that kind of honor. Jesus is the King of kings, and yet when He comes in He shares the meal together with us. That part of the verse “and they with me” had never struck me like that before. But it’s an important provision—He’s not expecting to be waited on but dined with.

This past weekend, some of us were invited over to this same family’s house for dinner. They are in their own home now, thanks to the refugee organization, and they wanted to extend some hospitality to thank us for helping welcome them to their new country.

The food was laid out on the table—a feast fit for kings! And when we came to the door and knocked this time we came in and ate with them and they with us! As we shared a meal and sat with them in their home, it was such a different feel than being served that plate of baklava—we were a family now.

After dinner, we sat in the living room and sang songs and listened to stories and cried and laughed together.  The feelings of family and community and hope were surrounding us. The Syrian Muslim refugees and the Jesus People. Sharing a meal. Becoming a family.

Debbie Baumgartner

Debbie Baumgartner

Mathematics Teacher at Uptown Christian School at Jesus People USA
Debbie Baumgartner is a wife of an alien (permanent resident) and mother of 2 "tweens" who loves teaching and learning about mathematics and spirituality. Part of the JPUSA community for the past 20 years, she loves to organize events and parties to encourage celebration and togetherness. A collection of her sermons and other talks/writings can be found at Tree Gardeners of Uptown.
Debbie Baumgartner

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