About a month ago a fire burned down a home in the trailer park across the street. Everything was lost and uninsured. We knew the family – the children attend – so our church responded. The morning after the fire an email went out asking for five sets of clothes for the four children (a school week’s worth). Within hours our church members had clothes purchased. On Sunday we had a special offering that raised $3000. Part of this helped the family pay the cost of finding a new rental home. Then last Sunday a list went out of needs to fill their home – mattresses, couches, microwave, tv, bedding, dishes… It was a big list, but by Monday morning our church had committed to everything on the list. Some things were gently used (couch and love seat) and others were purchased new (bedding, towels, even big things like a washer and a freezer).
In search of a few items I found myself at a thrift store. The store was a part of an immaculate retirement center where a church member works. The center offered transition from homes, to apartments, to skilled care. So the apartment complex was surrounded by retirement houses. Not small houses, but large beautiful houses. The church member commented he wasn’t sure why anyone would need 3-4000 feet in retirement.
I also found myself picking up mattresses, a dresser, and shelves from another church member. He is long retired and looking toward the next stage. Wherever I’m going – to a home or heaven, I won’t need any of this stuff.
As all of this was happening, we were looking at new couches (during Ivy’s birthday celebration my brother played Ring Around the Rosie… with “all fall down”, he crashed onto the couch with a loud crack). I felt the tug of the “bigger and better” mindset, but there in the thrift store was a couch and love seat. They were better than our cracked couch (which I had imperfectly repaired). But they weren’t our style. And there is excitement with getting something new. Plus, there was a question mark on who sat there before… “Do you think someone died on the couch?” “Are you worried about bed bugs?”*1
Yet, it was a huge savings – an opportunity to give more. Plus, it became our moment to relinquish the need for stuff. So someone else’s seat became our seat (header picture – with Ezekiel’s toys).
I am thankful for a church that gives. Thankful that in this moment Chandler looks like the church of Acts 4 (“there were no needy persons among them.”). Even more, I am thankful for a church that challenges me. Rather than seeking my own place, I am pushed to sit beside my neighbor and share God’s love. Because of that love Jesus came to sit where they sat – taking everyone’s place on the judgment seat. Through Jesus all may have new life in God’s love.
*1 — We were asked both of these questions. While the retirement thrift store did receive things because the person passed away – I wasn’t worried. But the suggestion of bed bugs did cause concern. Meg and I googled and researched all kinds of couch cleaners. We finally settled on a few methods using natural cleaners. The first step was vacuuming and then covering everything in baking soda… we used 17 pounds!