Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
On Saturday, St. James hosted a FREE GARAGE SALE for the neighborhood. It was a tremendous success. We had over a hundred and twenty people attend. Tables were stacked high with donated items -about 80% were taken (the rest will be picked up by local charities). A group of about a dozen folks from St. James lent their hands to the effort. Many thanks to all who contributed and special thanks to our Ministry Host, Kari Owens.
Those are the wonderful details but let me tell you a story that helps to explain why we would host a Free Garage Sale in the first place. Let me tell you why this is a ministry and why we are careful about how we fund ministry at St. James.
The story comes to me from a reliable source - my wife, Katie. While Katie was standing by one of the tables, greeting guests and seeing if anyone needed help, she noticed a woman who was looking at a baby basin. The woman was hefting the basin as she considered the item. Her scrutiny was intense as she carefully kept turning the item. With a questioning look and in a broken English tongue, she hesitantly asked, "how much?" Katie said, "nothing. It is free. If you like it, it is yours." "Really?" the woman replied. With a smile on her face and a tear in her eye, she clutched her new found treasure.
Garage sales at churches are a lot of work. It takes time to collect, sort, and display donations. Many churches do this work to raise money. Since the donations are free, it is seen as pure profit. Although this might be the case, and Lord knows churches can always use extra funding, at the end of the day I want to ask the question that should be primary - what witness is the church giving?
What witness is the church giving that is different from a local charity raising money for a good cause or to send youth on a trip to an exotic locale? In charging for donated items aren't we saying in a consumerist culture - we want your money? When people from the neighborhood enter our ministry center, what do we want them to experience? Sure, we could welcome them to a sale and make them 'feel at home.' To what do we witness when they find their 'bargain deal?' How is the core of our Lutheran identity - GRACE - communicated with a price tag?
A FREE GARAGE SALE - it might seem crazy to some. Why would you do all that work and not make some needed money in the process?
To answer that question let me remind us of our VISION for ministry; "By the Grace of God, we will build and deepen loving relationships with God, each other, and our neighbor"
hold up the reaction of a grateful woman who went home with a baby basin at no charge...
Thankful for the ministry in which we share and looking forward to seeing you in worship,