Who Needs a Rummage Sale Anyway?
Last Saturday morning, it was amazing to see how the whole town was on the move. People put out whatever they could get rid of and make a little buck out of it. The streets of Hopewell were packed with items of any kind. From diaper dispenser to anything you can name. In our own stand, a lady discovered a game that she said was common in the sixties “Cootie “game. I had never heard of it until I saw the box.
I had so much fun talking to anyone who would stop by our stands. There was a lady who wanted me to come and attend her church and when I told her I was the pastor of the church right in front of her, she was taken aback by surprise. But I admired her zealousness to recruit me.
I don’t know when last you got rid of things from your house. In the last 6 years, I have moved three times and each time I get exhausted going through every piece of paper in my office at home and at church. And worse, I don’t seem to escape the temptation to read books while I am supposed to be packing. The result has been that that I make very little headway and end up procrastinating and keeping things that I should have gotten rid of.
As Americans, we accumulate so much stuff through the course of the years. We pride ourselves with the volumes of things hanging in our garage and basement. And frankly we are so attached to our material treasures that it takes very much convincing to get rid of them. In this sense a rummage sale is a great opportunity to get rid of the old and give room to the new.
What goes for the rummage goes as well for the Christian Church in general and any local congregation. Phyllis Tickle, a sociologist of religion, once said that the Christian church goes through a rummage sale every 500 years.
In the fifth century, for example, Constantine, the Roman Emperor, expanded the Christian church from Palestine to Rome. The twelfth century brought the schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. In the sixteen century, Martin Luther, Calvin and others led the Reformation. The twentieth century saw the rise and growth of the church outside of Europe and North America. In all these trends, the church has been transformed, new doctrines have been adopted and liturgy changed.
I think that once in a while, we need to get rid of what hangs around in order to give room to the new. Jesus says it vividly in Mark 2: 21-22, “no one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. No one pours new wine into old wineskins.”
Yes, we all need a rummage sale once in a while, for our own sake, no matter the emotional toll that comes along with it. When we get rid of items that just hang around in garage, closet, and basement, we make room for a new beginning both literally and metaphorically.
In His Name,