NINA and Red Doors

In honor of tomorrow being St. Patrick’s Day and since I fully intend to make my Irish ancestors proud by playing my Clanad CD’s a little loud, having a nice dinner of corned beef and cabbage followed by a couple of fingers of Jamison’s, I’m posting this a day early to ensure that all my holiday fun does not prevent me from being able to not only log on to a computer but also being able to post…….  

All kidding aside, the cultural stereotype of St. Patrick’s Day being the Irish equivalent to Mardi Gras is unfortunate and for most people of Celtic origin a practice that could not be further from reality. No Irish person I know wants their beer even remotely looking green or immediate equates the patron saint of the homeland with a 2 for 1 ladies drink special.  But the stereotype prevails.

Interesting thing those stereotypes.   

In this case the stereotypes about the Irish and drinking. Hibernophobia is the fancy technical term for the anti-Irish sentiment which in the 18th and early to mid 19th centuries was a fairly common practice in society.  The popular sentiment of the time was that the Irish were a generally lazy and drunken lot not fit for respectable employment, a regular band of drunken Mick’s.  During that time No Irish Need Apply (NINA) signs were common in store windows and newspaper advertising for help wanted positions with the Irish considered a sub class and relegated to manual unskilled labor jobs.      In today’s society such actions and the boldness of something like a NINA sign seems so foreign and distant to us but for many just a few short decades ago it was a harsh reality.

Interesting thing those stereotypes.

While we would be shocked and outraged to see a NINA sign in a store window these days, are we guilty of putting the equivalent of one in the windows and doorways of our churches?   While they may not say No Irish Need Apply, do we make the divorced person, the single parent, the person struggling with an addiction, the financially insecure, or even those people with questions about their sexuality feel welcome in our midst?  What about people from different racial or ethnic backgrounds than ours?  Do we welcome them into our church’s or even actively go out and seek them and invite them in, or, do we by way of our coldness and silence and even hostile words and feelings make them feel outcast, discarded and unwelcome?   

Our churches should be sanctuaries to anyone and everyone regardless of their background or baggage but far too often we try to pin labels and rules on those most in need of a handshake, a heartfelt hug or a warm shoulder to cry on.   We should make our churches the refuge to a hurting population in the storm of life.    In the Middle Ages the church doors were often painted red to symbolize that they were the gateway to sanctuary (as the church grounds were considered holy they were respected as such as kept violence free) anyone who passed inside could claim sanctuary and request mercy and a legal hearing from the priest inside.  What color is the door to your church?   Would it qualify as a red door or is it a dark uninviting black?  

“He came to that which belonged to Him [to His own–His domain, creation, things, world], and they who were His own did not receive Him and did not welcome Him. But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name– Who owe their birth neither to bloods nor to the will of the flesh [that of physical impulse] nor to the will of man [that of a natural father], but to God. [They are born of God!]”  John 1:11-13 (Amplified Bible)


Christ came so that all might know Him and have salvation.  All that believe on him are worthy to be called the children of God. Shame on us if we try to place labels, rules and conditions on who we feel is name worthy or not.    The New Testament is full of stories of Jesus deliberately reaching out to the outcasts, the downtrodden and the socially unacceptable.  How quickly we forget this in our quest to “do what Jesus would do”, Jesus would choose the single parent or the addict or the prostitute any day of the week, not just on Sunday.  Jesus ministered to the lepers and the crippled and so should we.  For us in our modern times those with leprosy have names like drug addict, gang banger or welfare bum.  Our present day crippled people have handicaps both physical and spiritual they battle against.  Are we there to support and encourage them with Christ’s unconditional love, or, do we pass summary judgment on them and only see their current condition?  Far too often we see only the present day while God see’s the future potential.

Interesting thing those stereotypes.  

Unfortunately far too many members of the body of Christ have become known as the cold shouldered, judgmental, look-down-your-nose churches that only further promote the stereotype of Christians being bigoted and uncaring of others.  It is time for the rest of us to reclaim the image of Christ and recast the Christian stereotype.  It is time for us to repaint our church doorways red, certainly in a figurative sense but perhaps in a physical sense as well.

I challenge each of us to examine our own attitudes and our own practices towards those we see as different.  Let’s make a point of putting aside our old and outdated stereotypes and working to show the open arms of Jesus to everyone. 

Let’s go paint some doors.


About meicemen

Kind of ironic isn't it that you have to fit a few words about yourself into a small box..... I am so many things - a husband and father, an avid sports fan, coach, church planter in training. My blog A Million Points of Grace touches on many of these things that "make up me" and my Christian journey on this earth.
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One Response to NINA and Red Doors

  1. Mlingen2K says:

    I couldn’t have asked for a better blog. You happen to be always at hand to offer excellent guidance, going straight away to the point for easy understanding. Many thanks for being there.

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