Garage Sales are hard work! Not only in the physical labor of moving boxes and furniture, but in the emotional grief of saying goodbye to our treasures. This will be the hard work of our presbyteries, too, these next couple of years. As we reexamine ourselves and our work together, you will hear me asking questions … something like, “do we need this in our new place?” These are difficult decisions to make. It takes going back through the stuff over and over again … each time finding something else that needs to be let go.
Some find that throwing things away or putting them on the garage sale pile is not faithful at all. My grandmother was a “hoarder” before we had a word for it. She could not part with anything that she or someone in the family might have a use for someday. She kept wrapping paper and Christmas cards, pie tins and milk bottles, Chinese food containers and every magazine that had ever come into her home. For her (and her neurosis) letting it go was foolish, even sinful, because it could be used again.
There is a place for hoarders … I’m glad my grandmother saved cardboard cake plates and rolls of string, they made great craft projects for school and the Girl Scouts. But, after the grandchildren grew up and weren’t making homemade Halloween decorations for their rooms … the paper plates piled in the house became a fire hazard. The Church has been called to preserve the Truth, but it isn’t called to hoard. We need to understand who we are and how we bring the Good News and the Truth we’ve preserved to a new people, and a new culture. We’re called to cull, evaluate, and imagine. We’re called to let go and let God. We’re called to discern.
This is a huge responsibility, I know. But just as it seems overwhelming, we need to remember God calls us to this at this time. Reggie McNeal says this in chapter six of The Present Future:
“God must have had a lot of confidence in you to put you on the planet at just this time. It was his sovereign decision to insert you onto planet earth during a time of huge transition. It takes incredible faith to lead during hinge points of history.”
We can no longer afford to say, “But, I’m only a child” or “I cannot speak well”; we can’t wait for a new Martin Luther or a John Calvin to tell us what to do; we have to understand that God has called us – you and me – to this unwieldy task. And we will do it faithfully and prayerfully and imaginatively together.