I’m no one to give advice. I love me a good rummage sale as much as the next bargain hunter. I write this out of (and because of) my own weaknesses.
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:9-10.)
When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (Deuteronomy 24:19)
We get some pretty sweet donations arriving at our church during rummage sale setup – and an awful lot of the best are long gone before the first shopper from the community ever hits the door on Thursday night. What if we were to intentionally observe the practice of gleaning? What if we pass some of it by, as we sort (and pre-shop)? If we don’t grab up all of the good deals we find. If we rejoice that some of the best is left for the stranger, the poor, the widow, the fatherless, the foreigner.
Surely, buy what you need – giving thanks not for the good price, but that your needs are provided for. But as you shop and buy, leave some behind so that others’ needs are provided for as well. I am grateful for the rummage sale because it allows our family to buy clothing and household items, sparing our budget for other things – kids’ activities, Driver’s Ed, music lessons. I must remember that there are many who struggle to pay for rent and food. Lord, help me to not put my pleasure above others’ survival.
As we work, unpack, organize, set prices, let us also pray: for those whose hands and hearts have given the items to sell, and also for those whose homes will receive them.
And let us look, and see the witness of the rummage: how much we spend for that which does not satisfy, that which we are soon willing to part with, even relieved to be rid of. As a community, how much of our money was spent to buy these items new? Did they serve the purpose we had hoped they would? Did they fill the God-shaped hole? Did our neighbors go without food, medical care, shelter while we were buying decorations for our homes, new clothes, kitchen gadgets? Was it worth it?
What we buy, and what we sell, bears witness to our choices and how we see our role as church in this community. What do we want that witness to be?
This year, this week, let us find satisfaction in what we do not buy. Let us be richly adorned in simplicity, as the lilies of the field. Let us be filled by what we give up.