Last week I officiated at a funeral at Hope for a former member that had moved away a long, long time ago. The family who are scattered around the country converged on Toledo and we had the funeral followed by the internment at Toledo Memorial. Prior to the service the family wandered around the sanctuary and noted all the changes since they were last here for a funeral and the nephew shared a great story. It seems that when he was much younger, what we know to be the big red doors weren't red. When they were repainted red, his mother was so "offended" by the new color that she refused to enter or leave through them. I laughed because I am confident that I would get significant complaints from many if we tried to change the color to anything other than red today. We are such creatures of habit, aren't we?
I also laughed because in my last congregation we went through a building process and had big doors to a new narthex. About a year after the building was completed, the finish or the stain began to peel and flake. Our options for repair were not easy or simple and the property chairperson who had grown up in PA suggested rather than stripping the doors, re-staining and refinishing the doors, we simply sand them and paint them red. He noted that all of the doors on churches where he grew up were red. There was great outrage by people that leaders could even think about painting the big doors red.
The reality is that the color of the doors is really "adiaphora." Adiaphora is a word that Martin Luther used to describe things that were neither forbidden or commanded by scripture. In other words, they really don't matter in the bigger scheme of things. Yet we really get hooked on what we are used to and as some have noted, "The only person who likes change is a baby with a soiled diaper."
This week as we continue "Stepping out of the Tomb" we explore how God continues to call us to cross the cultural and tradition divide to share the Good News with ever widening circles.