By these I mean chiefly the jumble sales (U.K) and rummage sales (U.S.A.) which churches sponsor in order to raise a few bucks (or a few quid) for the parish budget.
The “jumble/rummage” sale mentality seems to me to demean the meaning of the Christian message and hope.
I wonder: “Should the good news of G-d’s realm be underwritten by the miserly pennies of non-believers who come to church sales?”
A rung or two above the jumble/rummage sales are the parish fairs. These usually take place in the month or two before Christmas.
They often feature decent handicrafts and good food.
In lively parishes they evoke a great deal of “support”, and many hours of work from Church members.
Truth to tell, they “bring people together”.
Yet they rarely realise more money than say 3% - 4% of the church budget.
As a Rector I was duty bound to support such efforts. But I was never able to get excited about them.
I am sure that my lack of excitement arose from my Plymouth Brethren background. In the “P.B’s” it would have been unthinkable to suggest that any part of the local Church budget be dependent on fund raising from non-members. In this I think that they were correct.
Nonetheless earlier today I took myself to my Church, St. Boniface on Siesta Key, for our “Global Gift Fair”. I trolled down to the Church partly to relieve my boredom, and partly to demonstrate that I am a “good egg”.
I was determined not to spend a dime. In the end I parted with $20.50.
I bought some “fair trade” coffee, some “environmentally healthy” house cleaning material, and a name tag holder (which, if I use it, will save the waste of a new paper name tag each Sunday).
Thus, having justified myself, I returned home with that “inner glow” arising from the fact that I had done something which was useful to both the “environment” and to my parish.
Lord above, I am such a good person - but never for more than $20.50.