When I was a kid, I always got in trouble for not closing the back gate. The back gate separated the back yard from our driveway. If someone left the back gate open, during the night the wind would blow and you could hear the gate open and shut with loud banging noises. Upon hearing this, my parents would yell out: “Who left the back gate open?”
In this Sunday's Gospel reading from John, Jesus tell us that he is the gate. Jesus protects his sheep by closing the gate and enfolding us in his loving embrace. Jesus is our security. Jesus is the shepherd and the guardian of our souls.
Today in the church, I feel that we have taken the gate metaphor too far. To many people in the world, the church is just full of too many gates: Who can take communion? What do I have to wear? What if I am divorced? Would the church welcome someone who doesn’t know the rules?
Sure, Jesus is the gate, the protector of the flock. Yet Jesus, through his Holy Spirit, is also the one who blows the gate wide open. Jesus has provided clear and open access to the Father of us all, through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
I love thinking that our closed access to God is now banging in the wind, because “someone” has left the back gate wide open.