St Paul reminds us that the Church is one body with many parts and all of the parts are essential. To live in Christian community for any extended period of time means that eventually we are going to step on people’s toes – it’s unavoidable. Over the years I have stepped on people’s toes and I have had my toes stepped on, and my guess is that your experiences are not all that different. I have found that new ideas for ministry are often good opportunities to get your toes stepped on, and vice versa.
Once I was part of developing a new worship experience for small children and their families. The head of the altar guild informed me that they would not set up or support this endeavor – they wanted nothing to do with it. This took a lot of the wind out of our sails and definitely wiped out some of our enthusiasm, but we pressed on and over time that worship experience became very popular and attracted a lot of new people to our church.
Some time later that same person, still head of the altar guild, came in to my office and told me that my skills at setting up for worship at the new service were a complete disaster (this was absolutely true) and that the altar guild insisted on taking over. She then presented me with a new communion set specifically for the children – which she herself had purchased.
I’m not sure you can draw a picture of reconciliation, but it was definitely in the room at that moment, along with a whole lot of grace. I have concluded that stepping on each other’s toes is part and parcel of following Jesus to the Kingdom. In fact, if we are not doing it we are probably not trying hard enough. But the door to reconciliation is always open, and when we walk through it, it is often the very best part of the journey.
The Rev. Jason Leo serves as Missioner for Congregational Vitality in the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.