What we talk about as the church matters. The conversations we engage in with one another make a difference in what kind of witness we will be to the world.
I’ve heard many preachers joke from time to time about something being as hard as choosing the color of the carpet in the sanctuary. You’ve heard them say it, too, I bet. As silly as it sounds, it speaks to a reality of a lot of churches. It’s only said as a half-joke.
Real church people have fought over that very conversation. Some left their church. Others resented their Christian friends as a result of the wrong color.
Read Church history and you’ll see there has always been division. I have Catholic colleagues who find it strange that Protestant Christians make such a big deal about the Reformation. We’re happy that the Church split, they wonder.
So many times, though, the divisions we read about began as theological confrontations. That doesn’t always make the disunion any better. And while I can’t recall a time any theological discussion riled me up, I can understand how important these issues can be to some people.
But the color of the carpet?
What about the bulletin format?
Remember the worship wars of the last couple of decades? I sure hope we feel stupid about that. Lord, grant us to learn that some conversations belong on the pre-Resurrection side of Easter and that some conversations need to happen, and give us the wisdom to know the difference.
The Marys and Salome woke up very early on the first day of the week to prepare the body of Jesus. It was only a few days ago they watched him die. Mark tells us their story. He says they were discussing something important to them. They wondered who would move the large rock that blockaded them from their work. The glory of Easter is that once they arrived at the tomb, they didn’t need to worry about the rock any longer.
Their question becomes the talk of the past because it doesn’t matter anymore. Knowing what happened inside the tomb, worrying about the rock is pointless.
The color of the church carpet needs to stay on the other side of resurrection. Do we need to make a decision about it? Sure. But we needn’t make it a kingdom issue. And, yes, we need the wisdom to know which questions and conversations should stay on the other side of resurrection and which warrant our attention here and now.
Perhaps the best way to make that decision is to ask, what difference does this make in the kingdom of God and to our purpose of sharing the resurrection story of Jesus?