Thursday, May 13, 2010

Trash talk

At last week's council meeting, our congregation voted to get a dumpster. This is very good news. Over the past years, church members have taken turns taking church trash home with them. Now we have an easy place to deposit it. I know that I have had days of stinkiness linger in my car after my spin as a garbage courier.

I wonder what this means theologically. I think of biblical images about repentance and being washed clean: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2). Having a dumpster makes it easier to get rid of our church trash.

That phrase, “church trash” intrigues me. Of course we have garbage at church—paper cups, napkins, and things like that. But we also have our trashy feelings. I’ve noticed that some of the worst and mean-spirited grudges can come from people at church. I guess Luther was right in describing us as simul justus et peccator. We are both saint and sinner.

In that sense, we’ve always had a sort of dumpster at church. It’s called a baptismal font. Perhaps having a physical garbage container on our campus will help us get rid of actual garbage and remind us that we are daily washed in the waters of baptism.

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