We've been doing a lot of house cleaning during the past few months at St. Andrew's, sometimes shaking heads at the useless stuff we've stashed away over the years in the hope that some day it might come in handy. In most cases it hasn't and has now been recycled when possible and sent off to the landfill when it wasn't.
There have been two notable exceptions, however. One came into play in late November as we were deciding which Advent wreath to use. We decided on the big one --- more like a wagon wheel, actually, atop a free-standing base. This was custom built years ago of oak for the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Centerville and we inherited it when that church closed. It's beautiful, really, but needed minor repairs and polishing, so that was done.
Then came the question of Advent candles. This wreath requires candles of the same large diamater as those we use in the "big six" candlesticks that march across the top of the altar, flanking the altar cross. These candles are replaced at least once a year as they burn down and, as you might expect, we'd saved several years worth of "stubs," all in the neighborhood of a foot to 18 inches in length. Some creative use of ribbon in appropriate Advent colors turned four of these stubs into Advent candles that worked perfectly (the central Christ candle was new). So in this case, saving paid off.
The second example came last Sunday as we were rushing around after Morning Prayer getting ready for the bishop's late afternoon visit that included Eucharist, a baptism and a light supper following. All of this coincided with the arrival at the home of two of our parishioners of a dump truck, intended to haul to the landfill the debris from a major kitchen renovation project scheduled to begin Monday. So on top of everything else, we decided to haul several large items in need of disposal --- a half dozen folding chairs fallen to metal fatigue, a large and obsolete electric word processor, etc., etc. --- down to Fred's and Sherry's house so that they could be loaded up and hauled away.
We had also been fussing for a couple of months about the church sign, the usual sort found outside nearly all Episcopal churches that usually reads, "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You!" followed by the name of the church in front of which it stands and service times. Ours, about 30 years old, had developed a bad case of rust because of the iron bolts used to attach it to the sign standard. We had just decided to order a new one and had even filled out the order form.
But as Fred was poking around in the furnace room on Sunday looking for other items that needed to be hauled away, he opened a large box in an obscure corner that obviously no one had examined for years. Inside he found two brand new church signs virtually identical to the rusty version hanging in front of the church. They were wrapped in newspapers dated in the 1980s, so probably were ordered at the same time as the sign in use. We suspect they were ordered to place at the edge of town, as some churches have done, but never placed.
So Fred hurried home and picked up tools, including a hacksaw, and new (stainless steel) clips and bolts, and before you knew it we had a new sign in place --- just in time for the bishop's visit. So once again saving paid off, thanks be to God and to our provident forebears.