Communion Cats and Spring Cleaning

One of my favorite “preacher stories” is about a small country church that had a stray cat living on the grounds. Everybody loved the little rascal, but on communion Sundays, he would find a way into the sanctuary, hop up on the altar, and eat some of the bread. The pastor began to use a leash to tether the cat to a tree on communion Sundays. Years later, the old pastor retired, and the new pastor called the lay leader to ask if everything was ready for her first service.

The lay leader said, “Everything is set, except I need to find a new cat.”

Confused, the new pastor asked why. The lay leader responded, “We always tie one to the tree outside on communion Sundays, and the old pastor took the last cat with him.”

There are bound to be activities, rituals, and traditions in both our organizations and our own lives that no longer resemble how they started. If it is due to a natural evolution that maintains or creates new meaning and value — that’s great! If it has become a burden or a meaningless placeholder, it is time to reclaim the value or move on.

Is there a devotion book you have read every morning for the last couple of years, but you now find yourself skimming it or zoning out?

Is there an outreach event that your church has done for a decade, but your people now dread it (or just happen to be out of town that weekend…)?

Is there a song that your choir or worship band always does because, you know, we’ve always done it?

Perhaps it is time to employ Marie Kondo’s method for tidying up: thank those things for the role they have played and then let them go. (Note: this may sound silly, but recognizing and celebrating the tradition can help in facilitating the challenge of change.)

If we are honest, we all have communion cats hanging around. Now that we are through Easter and have hopefully recovered in energy and spirit, it is a great time to do some spring cleaning. Begin the process now before the summer begins to pull away your leaders and your focus. It also ensures that if a time of planning and transition is needed, you can accomplish it before the busy fall arrives.

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