Moving is a chore, and is usually better once it’s done. However, one of the fun things about moving is finding a place for all your stuff in the new place where you live. Over the last twelve days we’ve enjoyed both finding places for things to make our new house home and clearing those empty boxes out-of-the-way.
It is also a bit of an adventure to look through those boxes and try to locate certain things. Some items that had the center stage in our old home don’t fit the new space in the same way and become either cumbersome or irrelevant. We have noticed the pile of things to give away getting larger, and there are a few new items that we would like to acquire because our new space would be better with them in it.
There are also some of our belongings we’ve yet to rediscover. I’m sure they are in the house somewhere, but it feels like I’ve misplaced a box or two. For example, where is our silverware? (Don’t worry we have another set of outdoor silverware that goes with our patio dishes and we’ve been using those full time while searching for the everyday silverware). Where on earth did they go? Another box I’ve been searching for contains all of my neckties. I feel fortunate that it doesn’t seem that there is a large necktie culture here in Old Saybrook so I think I am off the hook. At least I had a couple of ties with me that I didn’t pack with the others. But again where are my ties? I might want to wear one soon!
When we were packing up in New Canaan, we found a box with some kitchen items that we never used in the years that we lived there, including some covers to dishes we thought got lost in our last move. The irony was not lost on us that we had recently gotten rid of some of those dishes, and were now holding the lids.
How many lost things are we looking for in our communities of faith?
There are people that we know deep down are not coming back. We have stopped programs/ministries that have served their purpose well but are no longer viable. There are old hymnals and liturgies we no longer use. Worship service times may have changed. Former pastors and staff members are no longer present. This spring I attended a party for a colleague of mine. As I was walking to my car to come home I overheard two ladies talking, “Now that she’s leaving should we set-up the altar the old way?” The other agreed. I’m not sure what difference that ultimately makes, but it seemed clearly they were longing for a bygone age.
I’ve been told that when you move into a new house, if you don’t use things within six months (or maybe even a year,) you probably won’t ever use them. This wisdom calls into question the things we think we “need” to hang onto that have outlived their usefulness. How much clutter do we unnecessarily hang onto in our lives because we can’t let go? How much nostalgia do we cling to in our communities of faith that ultimately keep us from moving forward? Maybe it’s time to clean house.
Yet there are also things worth recovering: my neckties and silverware serve as personal examples. What about things at church? What have we forgotten that we need to rediscover? How about this list: Are we helping people follow Jesus? Are we teaching them to be both disciples (followers) and apostles (sent to others)? Are we caring for one another and our neighbors in need? Are we joining God’s mission in the neighborhood? Or is the box in the back of the garage or the basement somewhere, sitting on the shelf or pushed into a corner we’ve forgotten?
What misplaced boxes are you missing?
Jesus told a story about a woman who had ten coins, but lost one of them (Luke 15:8-10). What did she do about it? She swept the house, looked under the furniture, went through all her belongings and did not rest until she found it. Then she gathered her neighbors and friends together to celebrate her reclaimed treasure. I don’t know if I’ll get that excited when I find my silverware, but I did find my neckties this afternoon and I could not wait to tell somebody! How much more should we celebrate the kingdom of God when we see it opening before our very eyes (especially since we so easily overlooked it before.)? We should celebrate connecting with new people when they show us the things we never knew we were missing. Maybe they might even point out to us that box shoved in the corner with the pile of things on top of it.
Once we take notice, maybe others could help us set the table when we pull the missing silverware out of the box.