“The biggest closet is the church “the old woman told the child. “But we cant go there Grammy ,the doors are locked” the child told the old woman. “I will take you to a secret one “the old woman whispered as they walked down the sidewalk.
Today side by side they walk towards a chapel. It is a very strange day in history when all the churches are closed like vaults because of a virus. Still, the old woman took the child in hope ..in Hope the child might know God.
Fifty years earlier, I was child. I rode my bike many places. It was long before it became common for men and women to abduct and abuse, before it became dangerous to ride without helmets and phones, before bikes had many styles and gears. It was in the days when a red Schwinn bike could take you to the biggest prayer closet in town. And so it took me one day, my first day of worship in a church.
I was very thirsty on my ride and found the park waterfountain out of water . So I thought if the church was open they may have water. I pulled the door open. It was like Alice opening into a wonderland. Suddenly I realized I also might find out about a question I asked my mother the night before. “Who is God?”
A friend , Susan McGahee , talked every day about “God” as if he was someone in her family . She would often introduce me to “God” by referring to him often and saying I needed to meet Him. But everytime I would say ” God” , it felt awkward. I was certain it sounded to her I might not like him. I was somewhat suspicious since my father had told me to not trust people that talked about “God”. And I just wanted to know it wasnt someone she made up in her imagination. Fifty years ago every child had a great imagination. There was no doubt that she or anyone else could have made up a character called “God”.
When I entered that first church, I didnt plan to ask bout “God” but, something about this big closet demanded a either a request or a greeting. For those who knew “God” they might greet him. But I did not know Him so when I saw a box with a labeled “prayer requests” I wrote my request. I had just had the word request in my vocabulary list and knew its definition.
Though I was 10 years old , I felt as big and bold as an adult in a prayer closet . I wrote”Hi Mr. God who are you? Let me know you like my friend Susan” I folded it tightly in a square , slurped from the fountain beside the wooden box , left singing the chorus of a song my mother played “I really wanna know you” from “my sweet lord” by Beatles member George Harrison. This was my first encounter with church and this was my first entrance antiphon.
Entrance antiphons start the mass with an expectancy. An expectancy that we will meet God and he will meet us in our minds and hearts. As the leader anounces “the enterance antiphon”, folks rise, even since the beginning of Christianity, to say a text or verse of the psalm . It’s friends, brothers and sisters , in unison, greeting and asking of God.
Even folks that are not catholic enter their prayer closets with such intention. They want to meet with God. It is the knock on the door of heaven when we say from our hearts “show me your ways oh God” . The enterance antiphon has been the created way of the church since its inception. Not because of mans intent, does the antiphon enter our worship, but because of God’s intent in us. God creates us requesting of Him to show Himself and Him desiring to fulfill our requests by showing Himself to us.
It was for 48 more years that I entered the empty open churches with my own enterance antiphon. Most all my requests were desperate pleas and most all were childlike . And everyone of them , every enterance antiphon ,placed as a prayer request , was answered by the one I first called “Mr God.”
I write this now outside such a church . I write this outside the biggest prayer closet of all… the Catholic Church. I write this now as I watch the old woman and little girl sanitize their hands before going into a chapel, a closet that is always open.A closet that is always open when everywhere is closed. I write this now knowing that forever little girls can ask “Mr God who are you?” and get an answer.
Entrance antiphons were first solidified as part of the mass by Pope Celestine 1 432 . In early time, lines from the psalms of David were to be sung. Presently , mostly psalms are used but, other scriptures from the old testament and sometimes new, are used. It is usually a short sentence that reflects the core message of the mass for the day. For me it sounds as if it is a souls summary of the Lords intentions for the day… but that is only my interpretation. I am after all a closet catholic.
https://youtu.be/8qJTJNfzvr8My Sweet Lord was a song by George Harrison that tried to incorporate Christianity into all religions. A postmodern song with the intent to bring peace among all religions with a sweet chorus ” I really want to know you” that God did indeed use for me. But Jesus would return with His antiphon… no , “I did not come to bring peace but a sword ” “I am the way the truth and the life, no man can come to the father but through me” Matthew 10:34,John 14:6
“Come out of that closet child? lets go somewhere” I would coaxed my daughter many afternoons. Forever I will remember the face of her reluctant obedience as she would leave behind her beautiful world to go walk with me to a park. As we walked she would awaken out of her imaginary world . Slowly she would tell me of what she saw and did in the closet. Every conflict was resolved in her closet. And everything good was preserved.
I had other children. I would say to them , “its time to come out of the closet!” Their faces ,I remember ,were filled with reluctant shame as they were leaving behind an addictive world. A world where conflict is resolved with the pained senses being anestisized by image or substance. Since creation , Everyday , children all over the world ,are coming in and out of these closets.
But as much as there are imaginative kids and addicted kidsa ,there are also big children in another closet. The biggest and bravest kids I know still talk abut going to this beautiful place called their “prayer closet. ” these closets may be as big as a bedroom or as small as a backpack or even the hem of Suzanne Wesley’s apron. It is a hiding place for a child of God to enter the beautiful world. Even Jesus came from a closet out into calvary. Jesus went to a beautiful secluded place before He brought His beauty to us.
I suppose it was not so different than the duplicitous closets the first children. Adam and Eve lived in. in their innocent prayer closet, the garden, they divided. at one point were with the beautiful and holy. Here all was more than they could ask or imagine And then , in their shame were hiding in the same closet with their imagination pained and paranoid imprisoned in darkness. At another moment they were reaching for the forbidden.
Still the whole of mankind groans in closets.While some are in prayer closets, others are in addictive closets trying to kill the shame. Instead of hiding in garmets of beauty and truth they are hiding in drink or food or images.
Both in the closet are drinking from a cup . One from the cup of shame and wrath, the other from the cup of acceptance and grace. From the cup of grace , the child’s eyes are opened to a world that is infused with Jesus. From the cup of wrath the child is intoxicated into a blindness where all is dark. The light is off.
But from the cup of grace, the child’s eyes are opened to a world that is illuminated with Jesus . Many children of God have, at times, been in both these closets . Some by trickery and pain have been hiding in the closet that is a prison But a few small ones, by childlike faith, have been hidden in a closet as a refuge where every intention of their Father is illuminated.
I come out of such a closet . And The Father has spoken “Child when are you going to come out and lets go somewhere”
The following blogs, in the category of “Church Doors” will journal my hiding in the Catholic closet. I may lose friends, increase enemies . But, I will be able to walk again with my Father and tell the stories of all the adventures in Jesus he has shown me in this secluded closet.
I thank my husband George Unglaub, Good Shepherd Church and Blessed Sacrament chapel for every day I have been In Our Father’s Closet.
Will thou not revive us again that thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O Lord and grant us thy salvation . I will hear what God the Lord will speak for he will speak peace unto his people and to His saints let them not return to folly. KJV
REVIVE US OH LORD!
Seems like folks don’t talk much bout “revival” nowadays. If they do talk about it, it’s an old stale memory . They say “it aint ever gonna happen again like it did” .
But, from these same folks, I’ve heard buckets of rain bout revival . Heard it will change a person in a moment , it’ll flip a whole family, then in days , turn a town upside down. Coming like the worst hurricane, before you can say “whew”, a whole city instantly changes its mind bout God , sin , Jesus and the Devil. Stories like this still spread even now saying that a revival could one day change a nation.
Sometimes I am caught telling people what I read in a book about revival. In Old Testaments and writings of Jews, there are revivals before Jesus came. Many brave men and women were shouting “Repent” from caves and desserts and mountains and palaces. John the Baptist carried on with “repent , the kingdom of heaven is at hand” to announce the Reviver had Come!
Then, there was Peter who repented and revived turning to Jesus and saying “to whom should we go you have the words of eternal life” And there were Awakenings and reformations and revivals after revivals all through time. Even to this very morning when I got out of bed and saw a bird singing in the rain and said “woe is me for I do not sing” and before I knew it , , , I was singing a song. Revivals wake up whats dead in us. Or so , that’s what Ive read and hear folks say.
Every denomination and every nationality has had a revival. . But “maybe you are right” I say.
” Maybe revivals were a long time ago and, like “ice chests” and “wall phones” and outhouses, we just don’t need them anymore. Shucks, we got everything in packages and wired to go. You know there just might be some “revival plan ” app on your phone” I tell folks. But quietly, secretly, I think about them every day.
EVERY REVIVAL IS DIFFERENT
“Well its just too bad you never got to go to a real revival “a brother said to me last Sunday,” you would have liked it”
“well, brother, just thinking bout revival keeps me revived! “I told him as I sat in my “usual seat” in the back of a church.
It had been a long time since I had come to see my brothers and sisters in this church. My friend “Frog” sat in front of me . As I wrote years before, Frog and I are different. And seeing Frog made me feel like I never lost any time at church.
When the preacher said “Don’t be thinkin bout folks around you, just keep your eyes on Jesus” , I had just been looking at Frog . But mostly I was remembering how Frog taught me everything about revival.. . and about keeping my “eyes on Jesus”
One thing everyone says bout “revival” is that each revival is “different” . The Spirit of God makes it so. Each revival happens like a winter storm or a summer rain. It is when something from Heaven drops down on folks : individual drops of the Spirit, like the tounges of fire, and all start speaking different. See revival ,they say, is when Jesus sneaks into a whole lotta hearts at once. Its when we ask for Jesus to come change our hearts and we wait to see what He does with them . Without a doubt, you will know when He comes. You will know because he is escorted by the flame and wind of the Holy Ghost!
When I looked at Frog , I remembered all this. I remembered long ago when revival came to this little church.
REVIVALS AREN’T PLANNED
When the band played the first song I wanted to think about revival . But as much as you can think about it, you can never plan it . It happens anywhere but ,only at certain times ,all for Our Father’s reason. Lots of Folks try to plan it but, it can NEVER be planned . Its a gift. “It can only be prayed for ” Jesus friends say. They say you gotta see Jesus face and be in His heart before you can see revival in any place .
“you just gotta pray real hard for revival” a sister told me. I believed her like I believed Jesus first friends.
So I started praying for revival . I asked in the morning ,in the evening ,and in between . I talked to Our Father bout revival while on toilets, in trucks, in cars, in planes, in houses , in prisons, in hospitals, in gas stations , in kitchens, chapels, bathrooms and especially in the park. I talked to Him everywhere I went, always saying “bring revival”. “we need revival!”
Lots of times I would tell Frog ” Frog you and I gotta pray for revival” . Frog would nod smile and always say “uh huh” but never would he say “Amen”
You know “he’s watching us”. “I mean it Frog you gotta pray a lot if you want revival!. “I would warn
You want revival don’t you? ‘I begged one day when we were bagging groceries. “uh huh” Frog would croak and then walk away waving both hands in the air singing syllables of songs I did not know.
” Im serious he’s watching you frog!!!” I warned back.
Frog walked on down the road to the store and back to playing cards and just maybe sipping beer. I knew that Jesus watched him the whole time.
“he’s waiting for you to pray Frog!” I shouted again after him.
But I wasn’t so sure about that. I knew Jesus was watching Frog play cards. But I wasn’t sure he was watching for him to pray. Maybe he was waiting for me to pray for Frog. And maybe he was just smiling to see if Frog would win or lose at cards before Frog prayed to Him.
One thing I forgot . I forgot Jesus was watching me too.
As day ran into day ,without revival, I grew into what Jesus told me not to grow. I grew ” weary.” I walked around very weary saying “it doesn’t really matter” ” I am so tired of praying. I’m tired of being the “only one praying” for revival.” Soon my heart went from mad to sad. And I then saw a glimpse of Jesus eyes. He was weeping.
I saw he was in weeping over my business and Frogs business. He looked and said to my heart, It is all His Business . . it’s just sometimes. . . lots of times we forget he sees all this business. We forget bout His eyes running to and fro seeing everything. And if we do remember, we want Him to catch sight of all our “good things”. So While Frog was at the store being seen by all drinking beer and playing cards, with the rest, I got busy “doing things for the Lord”.. .. hoping He’d see me.
And the Lord Jesus’s eyes were running to and fro looking for but one. . . .
Behind the heads of all flowers that died and flowers that bloomed . behind all faces with scowls and faces with smiles, Behind hot bright our sunny skies or our cold dark skies , I could see His glance looking . Beneath much and beneath little, He moved His eyes across everything , ever so thinly. as a ray of hope, He would peek at us.. . . Looking for but one to repent and turn to LOVE HIM. (1)(2)(3)
But the Fullness of the Son’s face was not on us.(4) Everything seemed cloudy and dull. I even thought of Frog like a cloud himself. Like some nimbostratus rain cloud , big and dark carrying bad weather. I never knew when Frog would show up. Whether to the park or to church, Frog would disturb the climate when he came . He would either drift slowly in on foot or zoom loudly on his lawn mower.
Everyone would be drop their pencil or bible, look about and whisper to one another. Some folks started to plan to just lock the door so Frog couldn’t come late and disturb them.
Frog on the other hand never acted ashamed of being late. he just looked happy to be there. As dark days came and went , Frog acted more and more like a cloud. keping the same weather pattern , Frog was always Coming late, leaving early. I complained to Our Father.
“He’s like a Cloud He doesn’t think much bout what folks think of him and he never pays much mind to what you have planned. ” I groaned. “What good are clouds anyway I asked. They just come to bring rain like tears. ”
The more I looked at Frog, the more I thought about my own behavior. I found it easy to compare. . . .” Well “i am mostly on time. well I really never leave early if I do its caus I got a real important assignment. well I really never disturb anybody . ” I could see all the things I was doing “right”.
Soon I wanted to do more “things right.” I started thinking bout what I was wearing. how much I gave for my offering, when I would pray, how long I should hug. who I could hug, how many this how much that how long this how far that. . . .
I started thinking about what others thought more and more. And the more I looked at Frog and how Frog was not doing things right, the more I was busy acting “more right”. And the more I worked , the more the tears and rain fell on every page of my diary. There still was no revival.
“Frog you gotta show Daddy you love Him so you gotta show up on time and stay the whole time when you come to the house” I would say to Frog on Sundays .
He would just smile shaking his head at me like I said something all wrong. Then, He would crank up his lawn mower and drive off. .
Frog walked in the next Tuesday right when Pastor was closing in prayer . During prayer , Frog wandered all around the back of the house. He then came to me with money rolled up in a ball. “my oooooofrng” he said to me and then walked out the door.
Saying “it just aint the right time for offering Frog, ” I stuffed it in my bible.
After prayer,I tossed Frogs crumbled offering on Pastors pulpit . “He picked the wrong time for this He is supposed to do this on sunday morning,” I said proudly .Pastor took the offering and unrolled it ” its okay, sis ” .he said. Smoothing out the wrinkled bill he said, ” Hes just Loving Daddy ”
“well Love for Daddy outta be on time ” I thought as I marched away to scribble a complaint in my diary.
REVIVALS TURN TABLES TO MAKE A HOUSE FOR GOD
Pastor let Frog love Daddy in his own time lots of other times .Frog would come in late often bellow and “AAAAAmen ” and then turn right around and leave. His amens were like a burst of thunder in the room. Pastor kept loving Frog in all his disruptions.
He loved him so much that one day when we all dropped our pencils, and bibles and turned in a cold hard stare at Frog getting up and leaving, Pastor kindly spoke across the room to Frog. He said “Frog, you got someplace to go?”. Frog turned around smiled walked back to his seat and sat down. It felt like Frog and Pastor were working together to teach us something .
Seemed like everybody’s mind was going out the door that very minute that Frog got up . And after Pastor spoke it seemed like the Lord was saying to each of us “Children, do you too have someplace else to go”.
But when Frog came back and sat down , an aroma , musty and earthy, entered like mud soaked in fresh rain on the field . We all turned back to our bibles thinking “Lord to whom shall we also go ?You have the words to eternal life. ”
REVIVALS BRING UNITY AND LOVE
But the greatest preaching with Frog and Pastor came late one Tuesday night. It came right when folks were figuring out tithes and talents and tassels and tatooes and tucking in shirts. He came right when some one was asking “exactly how should we hug one another” on a Tuesday night.
Frog came right when the circle was breaking and folks were gathering one another against one another. He came right when every brother and sister was mistaken and murmuring about one another.
There was so much rumbling it felt the coming of a tornadoe in the room. words were stirring almost angry.Frog walked to the front and stood still. He looked sad and dark like a very dark thick cloud . Like a cloud that held a torrent of rain.
Pastor said “well church lets pray . . . are there any other. . not questions . .” he asked hesitantly ” but requests for prayer?”Frog stepped into the middle of the circle, Pastor met him there. We circled around each holding the hand of the other.
“What do you want from God Frog?” Pastor asked
“oooooooooooog” Frog’s word entered the air
“What’s that Frog?” Pastor looked kindly closer to Frog
“ooooooooood” Frog said
“I think he wants God” a brother whispered
“you want God””eaaaaah” Frog said as he nodded and smiled repeating “ooood, ooooood, oooooodd eeesus. . . . eeesus”
Then he said “moooooore oooooood all eesus”
“More God?” Pastor asked
“uh ha uh ha uh ha” Frog said nodding
” Jesus is God ” pastor drew close to Frog putting his arms on his shoulders ” you believe Jesus Frog?”
“uh hu uh hu” Frog replied , his face beginning to speak more than any word spoken.”Then if you have Jesus , You have it all Frog”
“come on church, put your hands on Frog” Pastor said.
Suddenly, Frogs hands lifted and tears fell from his face. Suddenly it looked like streams of water twisting and turning across rich soil. A mist settled on his forehead as Frog replied with clear tounge
Hands that rested on Frog beaded with this baptism .We all felt the love of Jesus come by Frog’s invitation . Then suddenly, Frog flung his arms around Pastor. “I love you” .”I love you too Frog” Pastor said
“oooood is good. Jesus. . .””yes Frog , He is very good” Pastor said as he watched Frog go to the older brother and sister.
The older brother and sister whispered in weeping “all the time, Frog, all the time”
He went from brother to sister with the same love, flinging his long arms around each person, proclaiming the same love with the same fervor one brother and sister at a time. A new baptism of Love splashed from limb to limb.
Messy Sweat and dirty tears taught every soul one Tuesday night. It wasn’t tidy or told, it wasn’t even on time in our minds. It wasn’t a fresh clean rain . But in our hearts ,it was everything Our Father wanted to give. And it was right on time. He sent healing waters through Frog . . . rushing rivers of the two greatest commandments into our body. . . into His Body the Church.
I don’t know much bout revivals or folks that go to them . But I know one thing about revival. It is happens only when Jesus is invited to bring the Love of God by the Power of the Holy Ghost in the room . And I know I have been to a “revival” cause Frog invited him in the room that rainy Tuesday night.
“Stop Looking at your neighbor and look to your Creator” I heard the pastor say . I shook out of my fond remembrance of revival.
Maybe I just might not need to know much more bout revival . The Creator of The Revival has taught me well. For Jesus proved true in all that he said about the two greatest commandments . And if I deny my self and pick up them ,then I think I get revival .
There is no greater law or way or program or duty of man than these which Jesus brings by His Spirit into His church.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it ‘ you shall love your neighbor as yourself” On these two commandments depend all the laws and the prophets.
Revival dear Frog is when these two commands command our Hearts! Yes Yes AMEN and God’s revival is always RIGHT and ON TIME.. . .!
The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good. proverbs 15:3
For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord and he pondereth all his goings Proverbs 5:21
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. 2 Chronicles 16:9
in times of revival ,we cannot preach of ourselves OR our works. “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord and ourselves as bondservants for Jesus sake. For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST.2 Cor 4:5-6