Open Box, Open Church, Open Heart

We have all heard of the expression of warning about opening “Pandora’s Box.” The story of Pandora’s Box comes from a story in Greek Mythology and it is a story about a divinely created woman, Pandora, who is sent to be the bride of Epimetheus. Now there are many versions of the mythological story(read here and here), but they all revolve around this box which is not to be opened and Pandora’s curiosity about the contents of the box. It is a story that has strong echoes of the forbidden fruit in the garden with Adam and Eve. In one of the story of Pandora and the box, she is the convinced to open the box by voices from within it which beg with her to do so. Her curiosity gets to her and she does. And from with in the box like a swarm of insects escape all the diseases, sorrows, and vices that now afflict humanity. They bit her and her husband before leaving to spread across the world. Now the story goes that after she and her husband had their very first fight, they heard another voice calling from the box, promising that if the box was opened again and it was freed it would heal all there wounds. After some discussion, they decided to open the box a second time. This time, out came Hope, which healed their wounds before flying off to do repair the damage done in the world by the others.

As I move about our community, I meet a lot of people who seem think that the Church is a lot like Pandora’s Box. They are people who have opened the box once and been stung, people who now view the church with great suspicion, hatred, fear, and even malice. They might think that churchgoers are judgmental and hypocritical. They might think that priests are slick hucksters or mean authoritarians. They believe the church is out of date and irrelevant. They believe that the message of Jesus is about all the things you shall not do and about making a person feel guilty. Many people today have opened the box once and been bitten, and now they refuse to listen to that little voice of hope that is calling out to them. They have chosen not to trust or believe that the message of Jesus Christ could possibly sooth their pain. These people then end up looking for hope some where else, or living life without it. Yet, all the time, they have the trapped their hope in Jesus in that box they regard with such fear and distrust.

In Luke’s Gospel, chapter 4, the people of Nazareth, Jesus’ own hometown, refuse to accept the Good News and hope that Jesus brings. They question how he could claim to be the Messiah? They say, “Isn’t that the little boy we watched grow up with his parents Joseph and Mary? Where does he get off upsetting our religion and make such lofty claims?” Even though Jesus speaks with the voice of hope, out of distrust, or envy, or fear, or whatever their reason, they chose not to believe him and they do not let free the hope that Jesus calls out with.

We can not choose when we are born, or to whom we are born. We can not choose to be a part of God’s creation or not, we are God’s. We can not choose if Jesus dies for our sins. That already happened two thousand years ago. But each of us does have one very important choice to make. Our choice as individuals is whether or not to answer the call of the voice of hope. The choice of the people of Nazareth was the same. The choice of those around us today is the same. I sure want them to make that choice. May we, as a church, also be a voice that calls out that message of hope to the community around us.