Yesterday morning dawned bright and early in more than one way. It was a nice sunny day, I woke early, and, most importantly, it was the day we were bringing my mother home from the hospital. I am visiting at my sister’s place to help out with making Mum’s recovery period more safe and pleasant. This morning was similar in most ways except that now she is housed in a lovely little alcove of the kitchen which is all set up for her needs. Mum, Dad, my two sisters, and I sat down for breakfast this morning, which hasn’t happened in years!
The first one up yesterday, I started the coffee to brew and then started moving some of the things out of the kitchen alcove and taking up rugs off the floor. Soon we were in full gear and with the four of us we got all the excess stuff moved, brought a bed downstairs and set up, vacuumed the floor, tidied, sorted etc. It had none of the air of the panic clean-up really, which I believe can be attributed to the fact that all four of us worked away, planning and consulting and joking as we went. One sister commented that we should make this a tradition. Because it was so easy and pleasant she suggested that we all visit one another each summer, and work together to clean and organize our houses. She was joking of course, but was speaking to the idea of many hands making light work.
The flip side of that can be that things get confused and unnecessarily complicated when you have, “too many cooks in the kitchen.” This expression is in reference to the disastrous results possible if everyone puts salt in the soup because they don’t know it was already done. I’m sure there were times yesterday when Mum would have liked us to shoo and stop asking how she was feeling and if she needed anything. Being asked the first time is fine, but having four people ask every time they come into the room would get most tiresome! There can even be safety issues such as more than one person coaching with technique of walking with the walker and another asking an unrelated question. Overload is something with which most of us are all too familiar.
The work of the Kingdom is a massive and daunting task. The good news is that we have many hands to do this work and most importantly the presence and presence of the Holy Spirit and example of Jesus to mitigate the possible too many cooks scenario. Our churches are at their weakest not as much when we lack volunteers, though that is a big issue, but when opinion divides and people butt heads over procedural or organizational decisions to the extent that they become stuck. In its largest form this has already happened with the division into denominations. If you look at the doctrines of the different denominations of the Christian church you will see differences in many areas, but in the real core issues of faith, they are more alike than different.
There is little that we are going to do, as individuals and individual churches, to take all these denominations and blend them back into one. We can, however, keep our congregational and individual focus on the many hands doing the work and remember that God is the only cook who is really needed.