My church women’s group has been holding an annual holiday bazaar since the beginning of time. It may be that the creation story in Genesis stops just short of proclaiming, “On the eighth day, God created the ECW bazaar.” The bazaar is, according to those parishioners who come from a long, multi-generational line of St. James Episcopal attendees, iconic. There have been some minor changes over the years, but the bazaar is a Leesburg institution. The pillars of the church would come tumbling down without the bazaar. The only year we missed was 2020 when a worldwide pandemic rendered hosting a group of people breathing on each other inadvisable. After the usual bazaar time, I checked the church’s foundation and I think there may have been some cracks.
There are a lot of benefits to the bazaar. The money we earn goes to support local, national, and global charities. Pretty much every dime goes directly out of the till into the coffers of worthy organizations. It is also a chance for our church to be more visible in the community. During the bazaar, we give tours of the beautiful stained-glass windows in our church. Our parishioners work together to produce the event. We try to involve as many sub-groups of our congregation as possible, even if doing so may mean we take in slightly less money.
The bazaar is not easy, though. While everyone does work towards the same main goals, not everyone is going to agree all the time on how to pursue those goals or when auxiliary goals should take precedence. Not everyone works the same way. Some people like to plan and schedule. Others like to embrace the serendipity. Some people like to stick with tradition. Others like to experiment and try new things. Some people enjoy working with new technology. Others find it a bit intimidating. Even when everyone agrees, it is a whole lot of work to produce this epic adventure each year.
I was co-chair of the bazaar this year. How exactly I ended up in this august role is a long, bewildering story, which I will spare you. Such a job is definitely outside my wheelhouse. Ironically, one of the reasons I agreed to take on the job is because I thought the skills that DO reside within my wheelhouse might be helpful. It turns out that I greatly overestimated said skills and their value in producing a bazaar. I was not very good at it. In fact, it might be said that I was spectacularly bad at it. In addition to my incompetence, I found that being bazaar co-chairperson brought out the absolute worst qualities in me that I like to pretend are not there.
The results of this year’s bazaar are a testament to God’s ability to use even very poor efforts to the benefit of his people and the glory of His name. I find the whole endeavor to be proof that there is indeed a Holy Spirit. We earned over $10,500 for the charitable organizations we support. This total is about $2000 more than last year.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for these results and the good that the money will do to help people. I am even more thankful that the bazaar is over!
Christmas is coming! Don’t forget that my book, Puppies, Guppies, and Letting Go, is available on Amazon (Puppies, Guppies, and Letting Go: Curran, Dorry: 9798842188574: Amazon.com: Books). It will make a wonderful holiday gift! And thanks, Bonnie Little, for the terrific review! If you would like a signed copy, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make that happen.
Have a thankful day!