In the church kitchen stands a small, electric kettle on the counter top. It is a 1970’s design, low level, limited capacity, with a pop off switch connected to a thermostat, so that it can be switched on to boil and it will automatically turn itself off.
The lead connects it to the mains switch directly above the kettle, on the kitchen wall.
It has been there for many years, as can be seen from the design and it is mainly used for incidental cups of tea.
In recent months, time has caught up with the engineering, as it has with the design. The switch will not stay in when pushed to the on position, and pops out immediately. This means that it has to be held in or it won’t work.
It was suggested that we could get a new kettle, but comments were made along the lines, that this is the kettle we have always had and is a historical heirloom. It seems that to stand and hold the switch, which doesn’t work, and watch the kettle boiling, is the price paid for holding on to the precious gadget.
Perhaps this is an allegory for our present situation in our churches. Many things are not working, or not happening at all, despite efforts to convince each other that they are. We are plodding along, just holding down our out-of-date and decrepit ideas, in the hope that the past will see us through.
If we continue to gain comfort from a historical perspective that has little relevance to our present circumstances, the history will catch up with us and we will be history.
Today, three strips of cellotape were put across the switch, so that it was held in without a person having to hold it. The kettle boiled beautifully, as the tea was made and the device turned off at the wall. However, this is a highly dangerous strategy, and not really feasible in the long term. Cellotape doesn’t last and the safety mechanism has been ignored, so the device will eventually over load. Someone has to bring in a new kettle, that works properly and will do the job it was meant to do.
Are we ready for some different ideas, alternative ways of looking at situations and trying innovative ideas, no matter how small or mind bogglingly large?
It remains to be seen how the introduction of a new appliance will be accepted….