Our church was a bustling marketplace this weekend. Hundreds of people made pilgrimage to our sanctuary, where tables were stacked with soiled wares and dollar bills. At a Community Garage Sale one man's junk is another man's treasure. There was a lot of treasure, and my children gleefully indulged.
This is our second year hosting the event. It always follows the local Home & Garden Show and precedes Easter Services. Spaced between Hot Tubs and Resurrection Songs, we sell angel crafts and candlestick holders. We do it in the name of Jesus.
I cannot help but note the parallels between our outreach event and Jesus' outrage at the Temple. The final week of His life--the Passion Week--He entered the Temple-turned-marketplace and overturned tables. The gospel accounts vary on details of the event. John places the Temple cleansing near the beginning of His ministry (2:13-17). After spying out the scene, He retreats to make a whip for a more dramatic show. Mark sets the encounter the morning after His triumphal entry (11:12-19). Matthew gives the appearance that the cleansing served as the climax of the Palm Sunday parade (21:12-17). Regardless, all versions emphasize Jesus' purpose: He rails against the perversion of God's worship center.
When Solomon dedicated the Temple, he expected all nations to stream to it. But he expected their need for God to direct them to the Temple, not their hope for a Snuggie and fifty cents of change. So Jesus rebuked their greed with the crack of the whip. He turned their cries of "Hosanna" into complaints about inventory. So it goes.
I used to wonder if our Community Garage Sales were any different. I would envision Jesus showing up to destroy our booths. I would imagine Him telling us off.
But I caught a different glimpse of Jesus this week. He came as a down-and-out resident from the end of the block. He made bracelets and sold them at an exorbitant price. My daughters each used their allowance to purchase cheap jewelry that I know they'll lose in a week. Liz and I did not discourage them because we knew this vendor--a "least of these" version of Jesus--needed a sale. And a visit. And a drink.
We invited people back for prayer and worship. The Community Garage Sale opened the door. They all need God to fill their empty bags and closet space. If He does not, they'll be back next year. I'm already stocking up on Snuggies.