By Jim Jacobsen, EPUMC
The Pittston Fair took place last summer, and the East Pittston United Methodist Church had a table in the Grange Exhibition Hall, as we do each year. At that table, we sell baked goods, and this year, cutlery. I spent several hours staffing the table on Saturday. The past couple of years, it’s my understanding that these sales are purposed to supplement the funding for the new Fellowship Hall.
Much as I support that effort, at times I was a bit uncomfortable. I felt that way because there was something missing from our church’s table: the church. From a fair patron’s point of view, the only thing that distinguished us from the tee shirt stalls and mobile food vendors was an 8.5 inch by 11 inch piece of paper hanging off the front of the table with the church’s name printed on it. Otherwise, we appeared like any other commercial money raising operation at the fair.
I would have loved it if people had asked me about the church, which of course is an opportunity to talk to folks about God and Jesus. Instead, the questions I got were along the lines of “How much are the brownies?” and “Can you break a twenty?” Realistically, why would people ask anything else, when there was nothing of note to pique their curiosity? We had no pictures of the church, none of our handouts or flyers, and nothing to invite people to worship with us. Nothing what so ever.
In my opinion, we (and I firmly include myself) hid our faith under a tablecloth, as though we were ashamed to advertise our Christianity. In Luke 9:26, Jesus said “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” If Jesus had walked into that hall, would He have been ashamed of our timidity and tossed our table out the door, like the money changers’ tables in the Temple? I pray that our congregation will be more outgoing and welcoming when we have opportunities to witness.