“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” Matthew 5:9 (the message)
My middle daughter signed up to pay for the Sunday flowers at our church…for a date in December 2010…a whole year away. The kicker? I didn’t know about it until the secretary emailed me and asked me about it.
You see, my daughter is only 7 years old. She has no money (well, not much). But she was already thinking ahead to my birthday a whole year away…and wanted to bless and surprise me. She has a tender, tender heart. The kind all of us should have.
And since my hubby was all for it, we decided to keep her name on the list.
But today at church, I saw something even more amazing about my daughter. I saw her simple, beautiful faith…and the heart of a peacemaker.
A long-standing church member approached me (she’s been there far longer than my family) and asked if my darling daughter minded switching Sundays with her for the flowers. The way the question was asked, I realized it was not just a friendly request. The church member went on to explain how placing flowers in church on that certain Sunday of every year was a family tradition of over 30 years. Her body language was tense and I knew in my spirit she fully expected a “YES, that’s fine.”
But still…I hesitated. But it wasn’t because I cared if the flowers were there on my birthday or not. Matter of fact, I like the thought of “extending” my birthday. But I hesitated because my heart went straight to my daughter and her tender heart. So I explained my daughter’s reasoning for placing the flowers that particular Sunday and asked the church member why that Sunday was so important to her.
“Is it a birthday or something?” I asked. I was hoping it was for an older member so my daughter would understand.
Her answer? “No, it’s a TRADITION.”
I had a choice to make. I could stick to my guns…or I could step back and let it go. How would my daughter feel if I did that? Would she be hurt? Would she see “traditions” as more important than people?
Well, the lady was adamant that she would ask my daughter, but I wasn’t going to have that. I knew I had to be the one to do it. My mama lion instincts kicked in and I wanted to protect my daughter’s heart and generous spirit. But I found out very quickly that I didn’t have to. The Lord had already wrapped her spirit in His…and a peacemaker emerged.
So I asked my daughter. And my daughter’s response?
“It’s okay, Mama. They are just flowers!” 🙂
She was the FAR better person that day!
I thanked my sweet girl (in front of the lady) for being so flexible and understanding. My daughter was the epitome of grace. She knew me well enough to know that I wouldn’t mind about the flowers – and she was okay with the change. So the problem was solved.
What if she hadn’t done that? What if her heart hadn’t been so full of joy and peace? Things could have been ugly. But they weren’t. My 7-year-old acted as peacemaker that day. And I believe Jesus was pleased.
I’m not so sure Jesus was as pleased with me, though! Outwardly I was calm but inwardly I was sad and yes, a wee bit mad. But NOT because the flowers were moved. So why was my blood pressure rising?
I was upset at the thought that more division in the body of Christ could have erupted because of a couple of bouquets of flowers. The concept is BEYOND me. The fact that flowers in a church have the ability to make people lose sight of the One who MADE the flowers is ridiculous. The body of Christ is NOT the building, not the pews, nor is the body of Christ the flowers on the altar table. Here is what the Bible has to say…
Romans 12:5, “…so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” and also 5:18, “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
I realize I am showing how very much I have to grow and learn (even from my sweet 7-year-old), so consider this a confessional post. It also raises some questions for me and for the church as a whole…
When will we, as the body of Christ, spend as much time feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, reconciling relationships, speaking truth in love and being peacemakers as we spend on traditions that do nothing but serve as “little gods”? When will we (myself included) live in a manner that is continually pleasing to Christ, rather than continually pleasing to ourselves?
At that time the disciples came to Jesus. They asked him, “Who is the most important person in the kingdom of heaven?”
Jesus called a little child over to him. He had the child stand among them.
Jesus said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children. If you don’t, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Anyone who becomes as free of pride as this child is the most important in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1)
Like I said, consider today’s post a confession of how much growing I have left to do. But I also offer this as my prayer: May our lives not be caught up in traditions that serve no purpose other than to anchor us to past. Rather, may we make new traditions that cause us to serve one another, offering Christ’s healing to the world and thus, serving the Creator of us all.