There is a ritual that happens each fall and it is especially germane to this particular part of the world. People begin to shut down and prepare for the winter ahead. We can’t know how harsh this winter may be, but that matters little. We know we need to prepare.

We need to move the summer furniture into the garage. The BBQ grill needs to be safely stored as well as the lawn mower — it needs a well-deserved rest.

In the meantime, we fire up the snow blower, getting ready for the inevitable. We ready the outdoor holiday lights, making sure that all of them work. The leaves will need to be raked and disposed of, clearing our lawns for the hoped for spring of 2022.

This year, something is different about that process. There is a new shed in our backyard, a welcomed donation from the church itself. You see, the church owns this shed which has been right behind the office area. It was determined that no one was really using it, so I wondered aloud if it could be moved to the parsonage, which is where it now stands. So, I have a place to store all of those summer things, effectively opening up the garage with a bit more room. What I didn’t anticipate was a discovery I made in the garage.

It seems there were a number of boxes that were placed in the garage that have been unopened for nine years. You read that right — nine years.

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When I moved to Worthington in the summer of 2013, these boxes came along with me from my previous home. Each held a variety of things that — quite honestly — I will never use again. An old circular saw that has a rusted blade. Pieces from a leftover croquet set. Various brooms from my broomball playing days (which are over). There’s even a blowing ball with the name “Dan” on it (there’s a story about that from long ago).

Really, when I think about it, there isn’t anything in those boxes that I’ve needed for the past nine years. It would stand to reason that there isn’t anything in those boxes that I will need for the next nine years either.

Innocently over the years, I’ve accumulated stuff that I no longer need, use, or want. None of these items are useful (except for the bowling ball, which I will need to change my name to use). It happens, doesn’t it? One day we wake up and find out we have stuff we no longer need, use or want.

We sometimes gather things in that we thought we needed at the time, but have outlived their usefulness.

Listen to what Jesus said about stuff from the Gospel of Luke: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” — Luke 12:15.

This seems easy enough to understand. Our lives are not measured by the things we accumulate. Be on your guard against amassing things just because you might be able to or because you feel as though you need those things. We might discover that one day, we may have missed the accumulation of other things which are infinitely more important: generosity and kindness toward others, a caring spirit, a loving heart, and a joyful life. I’d venture a guess that if we accumulated these characteristics over nine years that our lives would be rich and full beyond measure, because those are things that are never stored in a box!

As winter approaches and you make your household ready for the cold winter weather, keep this teaching from Jesus in mind. And by all means, follow my example. I’m throwing out everything except the bowling ball (you never know)!

Daren Flinck is pastor at Worthington's First United Methodist Church and Adrian United Methodist Church.