earlier this week, my family went to our church's annual christmas dinner & auction. it's usually held in our fellowship building, but since that's still being completed, we rented a local community center.
it's nothing extremely fancy, "just a covered dish" meal, but several families in the congregation work extremely hard to get it all organized and i'm always grateful.
while the meal served is wonderful - and whoever made the sweet potato casserole must be related to paula dean - it's not my favorite part.
no, for me, it's the auction that follows that captures the beauty of the holiday. what seems like a "quiet little church's" evening gathering takes on a totally different tone when these two gentlemen take center stage.
meet larry & bobby - auctioneers extraordinaire!!
by day, they are an educator & entrepreneur respectively. both also fill the role of husband, father, and community leader. and while only one of them is technically a grandfather, both love and care for children outside their immediate family (especially my child!) just as any "popaw" or "granddaddy" would do.
but, once you give larry a microphone, some "stuff" to sell, and a crowd, and once bobby has the first bit of "stuff" in his hands.......well they turn into men possessed!!
bobby walks the aisles between tables carrying merchandise up and down, enticing would-be buyers to take a chance on an item. i say walk, but in actuality, he moves so fast and so much, he's sweating by the time larry is only on the third sell.
bobby expertly displays each treasure, knowing just what to do to spark or nurture a buyer's interest and he neglects no one.
simultaneously, larry provides the audio to this performance. his cadence perfectly matches and compliments bobby's display of athletic ability. (truly auctioneering should be considered an olympic team sport.)
larry's pace is mindboggling. it keeps the audience fully entranced, while milking them of every penny he can! no one can hide.
scratch your ear, turn your head, readjust your chair and you've just added $25 dollars to the price and become the next potential victim - i mean owner.
and while these two are fun to watch themselves, it's how they interact with the crowd that is most entertaining. yes, there are plenty of fat wallets in the audience that they target with their talents. but the best fun is when they sell to this group...
what, you wonder, could they offer children that would turn them into crazed, maniac creatures, frantically pacing back and forth between the front tables & their daddies, popaws, and mamas asking for more money and then screaming to pay outlandish sums?
well, sugar of course. cookies, candy, cakes, and pies. there are a few other things, like pirate chests filled with dvds, swords, and costumes, but overall they use baked goods to create a frenzy - not only in the kids, but the adults as well.
and it's wonderful.
larry and bobby somehow get people to pay $95.00 for oatmeal creme cookies, $100.00 for chicken salad, and $180.00 for pound cakes.
one little girl was so excited about the treasure chest that she loudly announced her bid of $3000.00!!!!! (her father immediately covered her mouth and corrected her, by removing a zero.)
newcomers aren't quite sure what to make of this crowd. they start off with a "limit" in mind, but are quickly pushed beyond that.
not only by larry & bobby, but by others who are willing to pay such exorbitant amounts for items that can be made or purchased for a fraction of the cost.
and therein lies the real magic of the evening.
it is true that the things our church sells could be purchased or made much less expensively. they are for the most part every day items.
but, it is these simple things that become ground zero for some small miracles.
the money raised goes to someone in need - someone who, for whatever reason, needs a little magic, a little miracle, a little hope themselves.
all we humans do is put in what we have - our time, our talents and our possessions, all of which come from God.
He perfectly blends them together in this night's event.
smiles, laughter, and love fill the room and some who aren't even present get blessed too.
God's good at this sort of thing - been doing it for thing for thousands of years now.
He takes what looks simple and mundane and turns it into a blessing and a gift of grace.
for ALL - those who give, partake, and receive.
our congregational auction is small - a drop in the bucket - but it's blessed.
and while it isn't anywhere near what happened in that stable in bethlehem,
i firmly believe it's carried out in the same spirit.