photography by D. Plasman
This is our kitchen, well, kind of. It is not the one we presently enjoy, but the kitchen in the house we’ve just started to reclaim from the grave. This is a continuation of a story I shared in an earlier blog about purchasing a house in a less than “desirable” neighborhood a few blocks from where we currently live.
The real estate closing took five months in spite of the fact that the house attracted no other interested buyers. That’s a long story and I’ll spare the details. Now we own it and the work is just beginning. This will take a long time since Jody and I currently serve as Interim ministers at First Congregational Church in Rochester, MI, two and a half hours from Grand Rapids.
I’m not sure if this project is a restoration, a rehabilitation, or an attempt at a resurrection. It’s doubtful I can pull off any of these. A professional carpenter, electrician, plumber, drywaller I’m not. I don’t own a garage full of tools. I don’t even own a garage! And I tend to hurt myself a lot when I take on projects. I’m still recovering from arthroscopic surgery for torn cartilage in my right knee which I injured while pulling weeds. Of my species, I’m not the sturdiest.
So, this is our kitchen. When uncrumbling a crumbling house, it makes sense to start in the kitchen, the heart muscle of most homes. After shutting off the basement water main, disconnecting the water lines, and pulling apart the sink trap, the cabinet disintegrated without much prompting on my part. Standing over rotted floorboards, I repeated the words of the funeral liturgy: “Earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes.”
Like most of the house, this kitchen is a mess. But for the nearly two billion people on our planet who live in inadequate dwellings, refugee camps, tent cities, urban slums, and inhumane prisons, this decrepit house is a palace.
On Christmas Eve most churches will experience the largest crowds of the year. I find it a difficult time to preach, in part, because the language is woefully disconnected from our world. Angels. Virgin Birth. Guiding Star. None of that seems as important as the fact that the realities of this birth came first to the poor and to those farthest from the places of power. That’s how God works. That’s how Jesus chose to live – with, for, and on the side of the poor.
Today, instead of declaring war on poverty, we’re determined to declare war on the poor. Like rust that clogs galvanized water lines, the poor, we’re led to believe, corrode the system. The pregnant teenager Mary, saw it differently: “God scatters the proud and raises up the humble. God fills the hungry and sends the rich away with nothing.” Sometimes, it’s hard to see that as Good News.
[To read previous blogs about rehabbing an old house, go to www.danielplasman.com, click the CATEGORIES menu and select A HOUSE STORY]