It’s another glorious day here in Lanesville on Cape Ann. The sun has been shining with regularity, for which I’m grateful. We’re getting ready for a big extravaganza–the 40th Annual Yard Sale on Saturday morning. The church is full of all manner of interesting objects, formerly beloved objects perhaps, or formerly beloved of someone who has passed away. We see everything come through here, from gadgetry to couch pillows, from dish towels to fine linen, from costume jewelry to beautiful old brooches. But it’s not so much the “stuff” that makes the day enjoyable.
It’s the community that makes the day a celebration. We’re more like an old fashioned block sale. Our cousins in faith up the street at the Congregational Church had their Barnacle Bill Bazaar last week. Our turn is this week, and the people who come will mostly be folks from our neighborhood. We have baked goods and a sausage stand, so we’ll all get to eat one way or another. Sometimes people only see each other this one day a year, and it may be the only time they come in contact with St. Paul church. It took me a long time to understand the Yard Sale as outreach, but it is in an odd and unexpected way.
During the summer, people who bring in their items chat with us in the office. I often meet family friends and relations of the people who attend church here. They sometimes tell stories of their families when bringing something in, for an object in the yard sale once had a home and a place, and we get to hear about the history of the people who owned it, what’s been happening, why, who, where, what, when. Often it’s on-the-spot pastoral care, too, especially when the people donating have experienced a loss.
When I first arrived here, I remember calling a friend involved in Synod-wide stewardship. She gave me a good way to think about yard sales: they’re communal recycling projects. All of what we have left over usually goes to the Salvation Army or the Second Glance, one of the arms of the Cape Ann Food Pantry.
Will people coming to the Yard Sale leave with a sense of having met Jesus? I don’t know. They will leave having a sense of our community of cheerful hard workers. They often leave having a sense of doing something for the church, in a small way. Maybe they’ll go into the sanctuary before heading home, and sit in the quiet, because it’s beautifully quiet there, even on Yard Sale day. Maybe they will connect with an old friend who invites them to church on Sunday. Maybe they’ll be touched by something someone says to them, someone who remembers their name, or that they like nisu. I’ve often wondered if Jesus would like a yard sale, or if they had them in his time. But I do imagine he liked a happy crowd, and when people of faith show up in His name, even at yard sales, he’s probably around somewhere.