By Ralph Aona, Pacific Islands Mission Centre president
As a young child, I grew up in a congregation that had a framed painting of Jesus, who appeared to be knocking at a door. This drawing was in the front of the church, just above the baptismal font. It remained there for years, and then a painting of Jesus’ resurrection replaced it. His hands stretched out, as if reaching and touching us. Later, a koa (local wood in Hawaii) cross replaced that painting.
When I see that cross, it captures my attention. I am not sure why, but maybe it was the first cross that reminded me of my experiences on my journey with Christ. It is not the physical cross that captures me; rather it is what it represents. It represents my journey with the living Jesus knocking on my life and reaching and touching me.
When I went to college I thought I didn’t need to attend church. No one would know while I was in Washington. I was wrong. Jesus knew. Jesus was knocking on my door, my life, reminding me that he is not only lived out in oneself but in relationship with all sacred creation.
The fellowship and relationship with others in the community was important in my spiritual growth and journey. Jesus was right. On my first visit to the Woodland Congregation, I caught the bus and then had to walk several blocks. It was worth it. I met loving and caring people. In that fellowship, my faith continued to grow, my spiritual journey was strengthened, and Jesus was alive.
On another occasion, I was asked to go to the hospital to visit and pray for a young child with multiple medical needs. When I arrived I met the mother and saw her daughter hooked to several medical machines. The family members were not members of the church. So I had to explain about the sacrament of laying on of hands for the sick. The mother was receptive. She was open to anything that could help her child to live.
On another visit, I offered the sacrament again. After the prayer, the mother turned to me and said, “My daughter has taught me about love.” Her daughter did not have to say a word or move. It was her daughter’s presence that reminded her about love. Her daughter taught her that she was loved. The prayers just confirmed that to her.
Here, Jesus was knocking on this mother’s door through her daughter, and she was able to allow Jesus into her life through her child. The child passed away, but the mother found healing. When the celebration of life for the child was held, it was at a park with games, rides, and good food. It was a wonderful celebration.
The cross is all about Jesus knocking on our door and stretching out his hands to touch us. Jesus can reach us in so many ways—if we allow Jesus in. May we hear and see Jesus knocking and just be willing to open up and feel his hands reaching and touching us.