Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Updating our Labels

   Riley Middleton, my friend and partner in the ministry of making and fixing things, met me at the parsonage to work on a short list of items to be repaired or replaced. I am working through the list of nagging projects that we've too long overlooked. It finally takes the deadline of moving to motivate me to address the list!
   After returning from Home Depot with all the necessary parts for our projects - replacing a wall outlet fixture, repairing a wall outlet cut-in box, and replacing the two decorative exterior front porch lights after one suffered damage from an errant Frisbee - it was time to get to work. While the last project on the list had the most curb appeal (I could not resist the pun), it was also the easiest to get safely underway, since power to the lights ran through a switch; turn the switch off and no power runs through the wires. The other two projects, involving wall outlets, were a different story. They required us to turn off the correct circuit before grabbing onto the wires. But, finding the correct circuit meant....
   On some level, we all go through life assigning labels to things. We teach children to know what is too hot to touch, or what foods are good for them. Some of us label people we know as good or bad, friend or foe, helpful or harmful. Other people label products, restaurants, destinations, even highways as preferred or not. The list of labels is exhaustive, and the good that can come from using our prior experience to guide our future choices can be very helpful. But, what happens when prior experience is wrong? What happens when things or people have changed, and the label no longer fits? What happens when we adopt the labels someone else was using, without checking into their veracity?
   You guessed it, some of the labels in the parsonage circuit panel were not correct. Actually, half of the labels were wrong. Riley and I spent a few extra minutes this week correcting the labels someone had written in the space provided alongside the circuits. Which prompts me to ask: what other labels in my life have I been using and assuming to be correct? What other categories or boxes have I placed things into that no longer fit there?
   Jesus came and fulfilled many of the descriptions and labels predicted of him: wonderful counselor, prince of peace, etc. He also shattered a thousand others. To follow in his steps means offering grace to ourselves and others as we all live into and out of the labels we're assigned. Grace and peace, Scott

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