Church Door Red
"This is a Welcome Door where it is our deepest hope and daily prayer that those who enter here will find sanctuary – physical and spiritual nourishment, rest for the weary and courage for the called."
While I worked on this blog post on Wednesday, I watched out my window as people came and went through the courtyard. A parade of Hillsborough Street humans filtered in and out around lunchtime, coming to receive a brown bag lunch; then there were delivery men; church members coming for meetings and the book group, and one little boy with what looked like his father in tow, climbing over the stumps and jumping off the play structure. As the afternoon gave way to evening, the campus ministry students arrived along with some local high school students for A Taste of PCM night. I love the view of the courtyard from my desk, because I love to watch all the people come in and out of the church. I want more people to find doors – ways into the church where they might find sanctuary.
Next Tuesday the new door into the narthex from the courtyard will be delivered and installed. We have been waiting for months for this last piece of the courtyard restoration project to be custom made by Stephenson Millwork. The new door is handicapped accessible and will have glass panels on either side of the door to let light shine into the narthex. The new door will be painted church door red.
I can’t describe the exact color to you, although there are lots of examples on the internet as well as on the paint chips on my desk, but I can tell you something about the origin of painting church doors red and the symbolism that we hope to convey with a red door. The custom of painting church doors red dates back to at least the Middle Ages when church doors were painted red to signal sanctuary, a literal safe place where one could seek physical and spiritual refuge and safety. Red is also a reminder of the Passover and the liturgical color of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. Some claim that the doors of the church in Wittenburg were red when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the doors for all to see (although I could find no direct evidence of this), making red church doors a symbol of the Reformation.
Whatever the case, painting the door of the church red makes a statement – this door is different. This is a Welcome Door where it is our deepest hope and daily prayer that those who enter here will find sanctuary – physical and spiritual nourishment, rest for the weary and courage for the called. There is also a practical component to painting the door red. This is an east facing door that gets hot, direct morning sun. The heat and UV of the sun means that clear coatings don’t last long and would need more frequent maintenance. This door needs to be painted, and, West Raleigh, if we are going to paint it, let’s paint it church door red, a color that no one will miss, a color that signals sanctuary, refuge, and safety, a color that reminds us that this door is different – may it lead us all close into the heart of God.