Saturday, January 16, 2016


We have big dreams for our little kitchen, but they keep getting pushed back because other projects come up and because adult-ing is hard. This weekend we cut the ribbon on a mini-makeover that will make this space more functional, but mostly just less ugly.

Layers of wallpaper were scraped and peeled away yesterday. Jasper came home from school and found the change horrifying. "What did you do to our kitchen? It looks terrible! Put the wallpaper back up!" He even fell to the ground like Sadness in the movie Inside Out, holding onto a fragment of the old paper he'd felt nothing for until this very moment. This dramatic effort only drew my gaze to the ugly orange linoleum and helped the prosecution's case in Change vs. Jasper Carlson.

Most of what lives on our countertops and shelves is still piled high on our dining room table. I refuse to put everything back because most of it needs to go away or find a new home. These rooms will be messy for awhile, which often feels like reason enough to leave everything the way it is.

Phyllis Tickle once said that God has a rummage sale every 500 years and purges everything that no longer serves the Kingdom of God. It makes sense. God keeps choosing to work through people and people are packrats - emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Zion has entire closets filled with silk flower center pieces we use once a year. There are Sunday School supplies from three decades ago still snuggled in the drawers of a huge armoir too heavy to move and to mysterious in origin to know whether we're "allowed to". Chucking stuff butts up against memories, memorials, and our human concepts of permanence. It's grounds for grief and disagreement. Letting go is exhausting because it can feel like failure.

Our kitchen is embarking on such modest, compromised change. We won't be knocking out any walls just yet, the cabinets can stay, and the fridge will continue to operate on its own timeline. I need this room to function better, but not so much better that it requires real death and resurrection.

But God is not nearly the cheap, lazy procrastinator I am when it comes to house projects. God gets real about these remodels and garage sales. God has big design plans and abundant resources. God is, quite literally, in the business of death and resurrection.

As the church changes and God starts tagging things for the sale, we have two choices:

Plan A:
1. Peel back some wallpaper.
2. Get completely overwhelmed.
3. Make the pain change all about ourselves.
4. Scale back the project and pretend it's a dream kitchen.

Plan B:
1. Ask God what we should be tagging.
2. Roll up our sleeves and say goodbye well.
3. Choose to see the bare closets and open spaces as empty tombs, signs of resurrection and promise.
4. Ask God what the Kingdom's design calls for next.

Kingdom God, change is hard. Distract us from our martyrdom and fear by making us useful. Move with us from death to life so we can peel with courage and tag with wisdom. Amen.

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