One of the bonuses of living in a rectory is that we have first pick at the church rummage sale. This seems to be a universal bonus for clergy families. The rationale (at least my rationale) is that we can find things that we know are needed by those who can’t afford even to shop rummage sales. I have gathered in children’s clothes, kitchenware, and work clothes for people who needed them from my own churches in the past. We either write a blanket donation check (usually more than the goods were marked) or we tally it up and give the dollar amount.
I had a list; Mother Kay is away and I knew what was needed. Now, some of it is for us, admittedly, but we are so far behind in replacing lost household items that I need a head start.
It was a good bunch of stuff.
Canning jars – quart and two quart, square. The perfect homesteading canning jars. Four boxes. The prize of all rummage sale prizes!
Two winter sweaters, one for each of us, a pile of children and baby clothes for struggling families (including our own) and a new, still-cello-wrapped family Bible for Kay to present to someone. (Clergy have first dibs on all Bibles at church rummage sales. Dear Father John Pearce, now with the Lord, used to pull them off the shelves in thrift shops, walk up to the sales clerk and ask, “How much for these Bibles?” even if they were clearly marked. I don’t think he ever paid for one, because the answer was always, “For you, Father, it’s free.” He gave them away within days. There really is a need and hunger for the Word in this world!)
Two new quilting patterns, and an Amish doll pattern -you know how expensive those are! A pile of Icelandic yarn and knitting needles and patterns. Fabric remnants.
A knife block with two Henckel knives and steel. A beautiful honey pot. A casserole dish and carrier. Two aprons.
“Lord of all pots and pans and things, since I’ve not time to be
A saint by doing lovely things or watching late with Thee
Or dreaming in the dawnlight or storming heaven’s gates,
make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates.
Altough I must have Martha’s hands, I have a Mary mind,
And when I black the boots and shoes, Thy sandals, Lord, I find.
I think of how they tread the earth, what time I scrub the floor,
Accept this meditation, Lord, I haven’t time for more.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy love, and light it with Thy peace.
Forgive me all my worrying and make my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food, in room or by the sea,
Accept this service that I do, I do it unto Thee.”
It is a simple letter-press card, about 5×7, in a plain wooden frame. It is signed “Klara Munkers” and at the bottom is the chi rho, over a large M, flanked by loaves and fishes. I think I have some old prayer cards by this publisher; I will have to see if it is the same emblem. It is dated 1960, so I don’t think I violated any copyrights here.
Need I say that this is how many of us live? We have the daily duty of feeding our families and others, and caring for their well-being in the most mundane of things, such as washing up. We aren’t St. George slaying dragons; we are Brother Lawrence scrubbing pots. Jesus compares the loyal followers to those servants who sit up in the kitchen, waiting for the master, making sure that all is in order for Him, and He then tells us, “What you do for the least of these, you do for Me.”
When we fail in our daily work, when we put off the ordinary but necessary tasks because we have so many more interesting and exciting things to do, we fail our Lord. He gave us our families and neighbours in trust, to care for them as He cares for us. I’m not saying to be rigid and obsessive, but an attitude of “housework isn’t important” or “cooking is for those who like to do it” fails others. It is an honour to do these things, to care for the children of God. He don’t need to be heroes, we don’t need to be important. We don’t need praise and recognition – we have His approval and thanks already.