A couple of weeks ago, a woman came into the church where I work as Office Manager looking for help. She explained her problem to the volunteer at the front desk, who called me to see what I could do to help her. When I approached the window, I could see that the woman was upset. She wanted to talk to me about a "focus room" that she knew that we had in the church. She was concerned because her family was trapped in a room beneath her house and the only way they could escape was through this focus room. You see, the doors only opened into the church.
I listened carefully, and then said, "I'm not sure I know what you mean." The woman was adamant. "Yes you do. I've explained it to you, and I've explained it to her (the volunteer), and it's quite clear." Of course, it wasn't clear at all. I thought a moment, then nodded at her. "Perhaps I can help," I said. "Why don't you have a seat, and I will see if the pastor is available. I'm sure if anyone knows about the focus room, he does." She sat down and waited while I found the pastor.
Of course, the woman needed the kind of help that the church cannot really give. A listening ear, prayers, and a referral to the kind of help she did need was all we could do. The pastor spent some time with her, we contacted the husband, and gave him some much needed support. The day ended, and time went by. Just another day at the church office...or was it?
I found myself thinking about this woman and her story for days. As I pondered what she said and the fact that she was in obvious distress and worried about her family kept her on my mind, I realized that there was a truth embedded in the tale that she told. She believed that her family could only escape their entrapment by passing through doors that would bring them into the church. In some ways, isn't this a truth? Isn't the church a focus room, where those who seek come to escape the many things that keep them trapped?
When people come through the doors of the church, they expect that those inside will be able to help them with their troubles, no matter what they are. Whether they need financial assistance or prayer support, or whether they are seeking answers to their deepest theological questions, the Church is called upon to provide for them. Whichever way possible, the Church is a Focus Room.
The woman who came to see us a couple of weeks ago never told us what the focus room she talked about was meant to focus on. I can tell you that the Focus Room called the Church is meant to focus on Jesus. And in the end, Jesus is the Door.
I realize that once I am commissioned in the UMC and appointed to a church somewhere, I may encounter another woman like the one who stopped by that day. If I do, I won't be able to pass her off to the Senior Pastor. I pray that if it happens, I will be able to bring her into the Focus Room and open the Door for her.