From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Tonight I moderated a session meeting for a little church that has recently parted ways with a pastor (with some rancor). They are struggling financially, cannot afford full-time or even half-time pastoral services at present, and are needing to think very creatively about how they will be church together. As we met together, the session became mired in a conversation about a closet. In this large walk-in closet there are sewing materials and sewing machines. A member of the church sent a request to the session that we designate this a sewing room, and declare it off-limits to other uses. Is there a sewing group in the church? Not any more. Is anyone planning to re-start a sewing group? Not really. In dealing with this request it became clear that there are many rooms in the church that have been declared "off-limits." These rooms contain the historic detritus of 150 years, nothing of much value financially, an antique here and there, but mostly, junk. The church has rummage sales, and when they are over, the unsold junk is returned to the storage rooms.
As I sat back and mostly listened to the discussion, which became rather heated rather quickly, it was so clear that the accumulation of useless junk-- physical, emotional, historical and otherwise-- is a major obstacle to the growth and health of this church. At a certain point the room became very quiet, and as the echoes of the voices died, I heard-- I believe-- the sound of people "getting it." They quickly voted to 1. have a rummage sale to empty out all the upstairs closets (and agreed that everything must go, no returns allowed), 2. to designate the original room a sewing and craft area, and 3. to restart their sewing circle. Thanks be to God for the old passing away and everything being made new.