We are moving!
We’ve recently purchased a sweet little condo near Syracuse’s new Salt City Market and are in the process of painting, patching, and purchasing items for our new home. After years of apartment gray and taupe we’re leaning heavily toward deeply saturated colors. Although we’ll be keeping several old furniture pieces, we’ve invested in a gorgeous mission style settle (to be delivered sometime around Easter).
Lest you think we’ve become entirely too fancy; I also spent a good part of a day off assembling our latest furniture haul. If you’ve never assembled IKEA (or IKEA-adjacent) furniture, you’re missing out on… something.
It feels like I’m participating in an old family tradition. My Dad put things together – from Heathkit radios to bicycles. The only time I knew my father to become seriously frustrated with a do-it-yourself construction project was the Holly Hobby House (my little sister’s big gift that year) that he attempted to assemble one Christmas Eve. He spent the entire night figuring out how it was possible for Tab A to be inserted into Slot C, and in the end I believe the solution involved a whole lot of tape. That dark night of the soul is why subsequent years Santa got extra cookies.
Dad would rejoice when he found leftover parts after putting together a project. For him, these were a bonus. They were screws that could be used in a future project or a small piece of wood that might find service elsewhere. He’d declare: “Look! Bonus!” and grin. These parts would join other misfits in old Velveeta boxes on a shelf in the basement and would often find new purpose.
Although I think this optimistic attitude MIGHT have had some connection with the aforementioned Holly Hobby House disaster… I believe there’s something to be said for his optimism. These additional parts didn’t quite fit what he had assembled, but they were treasured and utilized. It wasn’t a reason for panic or fear that something had been missed, but instead was seen as a potential gift.
They are like the new person who comes to church and who brings gifts that don’t quite fit what we’ve done before. They are the folks who have new ideas and vision for how we might continue to be (or become!) the church. All too often, instead of rejoicing at the opportunities, we see them as weakening the project we call the church. They aren’t seen as a sign of the promise that God is always doing a new thing in our midst, but a threat. And so, we don’t find places for their gifts or new vision, but instead school them in how things are traditionally done ‘round here.
I get it. Last week, when I found extra parts while assembling our new hall tree I reacted with full-blown panic. This wasn’t a situation with a solitary remaining screw, but rather many extra bits. I feared the very structure of this new piece of furniture was in jeopardy. After the initial anxiety, I checked out assembly diagram booklet which stated that these were provided to allow for other variations in assembly. The hall tree could also be a bench with a shorter back, or the bench could be assembled separate from the tree section. It was designed to be changed and reformed based on the needs of the user.
If the church is going to change (and we proclaim that we are always being reformed) then we need to overcome our fear of what is new and different as an existential threat. They may very well be exactly what we need in order to be reformed yet again.