WE HAD A BIT OF A CRISIS here at Bethesda Church last night, but it all started on Sunday.

This past Sunday, after church, our younger youth wanted to play basketball in our small gym downstairs. This is a very good and usual Sunday-after-church activity for our kids. We are happy that they want to stick around, and we are happy to be able to provide facilities for them to enjoy their time together here at church.

To get the fun started, they needed to unlock the “ball cupboard” in the gym. Being resourceful sorts, they had come to know just where the keys are kept. Having retrieved the keys quickly, they proceeded to unlock the cupboard in a flash, get a ball easily, and (I’m quite sure) all had a great and sweaty time.

     But our AWANA leaders didn’t have quite such a good time on the following Wednesday night, which was … last night ….

     [AWANA is an acronym for 'A Workman Approved Not Ashamed' (see 2 Timothy 2:15) and is a Bible-infused evangelistic and discipleship ministry for children and youth administered through local churches, including our local church.]

The key-holder on which the “ball cupboard” key has been kept is, unfortunately, the same key-holder on which other keys are kept, including the key to the “AWANA equipment cupboard.”

Back to the Sunday-after-church basketball …

As is more-often-than-not the case, the exuberant and highly motivated youth, who had quickly retrieved the key-holder and with it effortlessly unlocked the “ball cupboard” on Sunday with the single key that mattered to them, were somewhat less exuberant about and substantially less motivated to clean up, lock up, and return the keys and key-holder to their rightful resting place, when the time had come to go home on Sunday afternoon.

It gets worse.

Some of the young people from the Korean Church of Winnipeg, with whom we share our facilities, arrived in the gym – potentially only minutes after our youth had left it – to find the aforementioned key-holder and associated keys, all of them, hanging from an open lock, dangling from an open hasp, attached to the still gaping, open ”ball cupboard” door.

Being responsible young people, they shut the door, securing its related equipment, took the key-holder and associated keys, and gave it/them to one of their leaders, who was busy in the middle of – you know, leading ministry – but who placed the keys, all of them, on one of the shelves … on a bookcase … in the staff office … of the Korean Church of Winnipeg.

There the keys sat until Wednesday night, when one of our off-duty staff people – also an AWANA parent, also my sweet wife Shelly – found them waiting for her (though she had no idea that they awaited her, passively and patiently) … on one of the shelves … on a bookcase … in the staff office … of the Korean Church of Winnipeg, which door had been left unlocked, fortunately.

That was at about 8:00pm (or so).

Unfortunately, our AWANA ministry is scheduled to begin, like clockwork, every Wednesday night, at 6:25pm, sharp, and gym activities are supposed to begin by, oh, about 6:28pm (or so).

Having run frantically all over the facility, since about 6:15pm (or so), trying to find, again, where the keys to the “AWANA equipment cupboard” could possibly have gone – no doubt, running past the Korean Church of Winnipeg staff office, oh, a dozen or so times – the games leaders did what any self-respecting, resilient, resourceful, and now a-full-fifteen-minutes-late leaders of energized ten-and-eleven-year-olds would do …

     They tore the door of that blasted cupboard right off of its smackin’-frackin’ hinges! (Thus endeth the problem of the lost keys.)

So I was driving home last night, to drop off some AWANA kids at their homes, so I could drop off my kids at our home, so my sweet and loyal wife could accompany and support me as I replaced a dead battery in my ailing car … at 9pm … and -30C, when a thought suddenly occurred to me:

     Didn’t Jesus speak somewhere about lost keys? Surely He had.

Scrolling through my Bible memory: Lost sheep … lost life … lost (to be saved) … lost senses … lost coin … lost sonbut no lost keys. (I’ve checked my concordance to confirm: no lost keys.)

That’s not to say Jesus didn’t speak of keys; He did – in the Gospels and the Book of Revelation.

Jesus said to His disciples, specifically in response to Peter’s confession that He is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”: I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

To some of the religious leaders of His day, Jesus said: “Woe to you, experts in the Law!  You have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:52).

To John the Apostle on Patmos, He said: “I AM the Living One; I was dead, and behold I AM alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:18).

Finally, to the church at Philadelphia by way of John, Jesus said: “These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open” (Revelation 3:7).

Considering our AWANA experience with lost keys last night, and having reviewed these ‘key statements‘ of Jesus, I can’t help but make a connection:

     How often do we who are in the know, concerning the Gospel, effectively misplace (or leave unattended or obscure or misuse or hide altogether) “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” from those who are seeking to enter in?

Grace and peace from me and mine to you and yours.

Pastor Mark

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