by Stephenie Carr, Missional Living Director
Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none… Luke 3:11
Every couple years, our church organizes what we call the “Garage Give Away” (no, we do not give away garages). If you haven’t been around for one of these in the past (and even if you have), I would highly recommend getting involved this year! In the simplest terms, it is a giant church wide garage sale, only without the money. It is a great invitation for us as a church to enter into a process of simplifying our lives of the stuff that we so easily and mindlessly collect, gather, let creep in and with open hands, detached from the results, give it away. Spring is commonly known as a good time for cleaning, and my encouragement to you is to let this event motivate you and help resource you to do that thoroughly.
One of the challenges that I find in living in suburbia is the world of “stuff” that surrounds us. Somehow, I find a way to fill every space I have with stuff that I may or may not need. I’m constantly surrounded by messages from the media, from society, from my own unsatisfied soul, that I need more, that what I have isn’t enough, isn’t new enough, isn’t fast enough, isn’t shiny enough, I’m sure you can fill in the blanks. And one of the wonderful messages of the Gospel is that we don’t have to live in that lie. We have access to Him who beyond anything else can satisfy our soul, sustain our existence and is the provider of all that we need. Sound cheesy? Unrealistic? Impossible? Not even close to as cheesy, unrealistic, and impossible as the lies that I too often live by that tell me that one more outfit would satisfy my soul, that one more bite of chocolate or Round Table pizza will sustain my existence, or that if I could get a juicer that was easier to clean that would be all I need. I’m not saying it is an easy journey to learn to live this way, but I am saying that we can all take a step in a good direction by engaging in the practice of simplicity. Sort through our stuff and sort out the things that we don’t really need. Loosen our grips on the material stuff around us.
I’ve been in a study lately that is going through the book of Luke and a few weeks ago was struck by this little verse John 3:11. Here we find John in the wilderness “Preparing the way for the Lord” and crowds of people are coming to him to be baptized. The whole scene is fascinating! John’s telling them they can’t just repent and not produce fruit that goes along with a repentant heart. He’s telling them they can’t just rely on their religious or ancestral connections. And when the crowd asks him, “What should we do then?” He responds, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Really? This is the secret for producing fruit in our lives? This is the way in which we prepare our hearts for the Lord? You bet! Not that anything magical happens when we start this process of releasing our stuff, but it does help us to see things differently. If we fight our dependency on our stuff, we can then be free to depend on God. If we start to look around us and see those who are in need, it frees our eyes from ourselves and helps us see this world and the people in it the way that God sees them. There is an unending process of growth for us in these words!
So that is our campaign for this year’s Garage Give Away – it is an invitation to you, to all of us! If we have 2, give 1 away. If you have 2 hammers, give 1 away. If you have 4 jackets, give 2 away. If you have 20 books, give 10 away. Now, I hope no one gets caught up on the numbers, but you get the idea. Start ridding your life of the excess stuff that we have and let a community in need come and take what they can use. We’ve invited people from all of our local ministry partners to come to this event as well invite any of you who have a need for something come as well. Last time we did this was one of Travis and my first summers leading a team overseas with an infant, and I needed some kind of luggage to carry our porta-crib while flying. I ended up finding someone’s old golf bag and it has been a life saver every summer since! There are other stories of someone dropping off a bag of clothes that no longer fit them and up walks a lady just that size who was looking for clothes. Another person perusing the books ended up spotting their favorite devotional that they had been planning on getting for a friend. Another year, we had a Russian family who had recently immigrated fill their whole apartment with needed household goods. It is a wonderful event to see how God in His economy of stuff arranges for it all to be shared when we allow Him to move. Of course, not every item has such a significant story, but all that is left over at the end of the day will be donated to Hospice Thrift store.
Along with all of the stuff that you will be getting rid of, we also have a need for volunteers! See the list below – and contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to sign yourself up!
Drop-off Sorters & Unloaders • 4-6:30pm or 6:30-9pm
Furniture Loaders & Unloaders • 8-10am or 10-12pm
Set up • 7-8:30am
Clean up • 12-1:30pm
Traffic & Welcomers • 7:45-10am or 10-12pm
Item Area Volunteers • 8-10am or 10-12pm
Donut & Coffee People • 7:30-10am or 10-12pm
And if you have questions, feel free to send them my way as well!