The Five Hundred Pound Weekend

Saturday was manic. It’s usually my sermon-writing day, but it was the summer fayre at our daughter’s school. That clashed with with one of my churches running a family fun day themed on the new Prince Caspian film. (And by the way, if other churches are thinking of taking up this theme, Damaris have some useful resources.)

The school fayre seemed to go very well, and it relieved us of much cash in our three hours there.

The family fun day exceeded our expectations. All forty-five plastic toy swords that had been bought at Poundland went, the visiting magician went down well, kids enjoyed fancy dress (one had been in his costume since 6 a.m.) and they loved the arts and crafts and, naturally, the barbecue.

Best of all, people couldn’t believe we’d put it on for free and didn’t want a penny. That was always our intention, but it was made possible by an anonymous donation of five hundred pounds from someone in the church who wanted to ensure that everything was provided free, gratis and otherwise at no charge. I had the privilege of telling the assembled families at the end of the magic show that we weren’t asking for donations, because we believed in a God who offered his love free, with no strings attached.

I finished yesterday’s sermon late at night, and then rushed to prepare a PowerPoint on Sunday for the morning service. It was a service of prayer for healing. We invite people to receive a quiet laying on of hands with anointing oil, and while they are being prayed for, the congregation participates in intercession, and we put the usual intercession topics up on the screen.

Not only that, we were dedicating some new song books. One of our ninety-something members had died a couple of months ago, and nearly five hundreed pounds had been given in her memory. In view of the decades she had spent worshipping God in Broomfield, one of her sons requested we update some of our worship material. So we had replaced our battered old 1990 editions of Mission Praise with the most recent (2005) edition. The stewards gave these out at the beginning of the service, and one of the lady’s grandsons played the organ.

We were introducing two songs that might have been new to the congregation, in preparation for the forthcoming Chelmsford Christian Festival. It had seemed best to have CDs available to play over the PA, rather than play them on organ or piano. Half way to church, I realised I’d left the CDs at home. I only got to church ten minutes before the service, hardly ideal, and discovered then that the grandson was willing to play both! He was excellent, I must say.

That evening, I came back from a quarterly ecumenical service in Hatfield Peverel for an exciting climax to the weekend. No, I don’t mean Spain’s thoroughly deserved victory over a moribund Germany in the final of Euro 2008, I mean something else …

This too involves a death. One of our Hatfield Peverel members died last August. I had only known him as an Alzheimer’s Disease sufferer, but before that cruel illness had struck, he had been a talented pianist. When he went to glory, his widow (who has herself since passed away) gave the church £5000 in his memory. With her blessing, we replaced our ailing baby grand piano with a Clavinova. (And we also had a Hammond organ – though sadly not a B3!)

But the problem was what to do with the now unwanted Chappell Baby Grand? We called on the expert opinions of piano specialists from local music shops. Nobody was that keen to relieve us of it. At the Church Council, I offered to auction it on eBay. Being the only person in that small church with an eBay seller account, and also enjoying playing with my digital SLR camera, I listed it. Last Thursday week, I uploaded the listing for a ten-day auction. It was scheduled to end at 10:20 pm yesterday.

So it was that I sat at the screen last night with some supper, regularly hitting F5 on the keyboard to refresh the page. I had been looking regularly during the ten days. Well over five hundred people viewed it. Forty or so ‘watched’ the piano. Half a dozen folk asked questions, most of which I referred to my musicians at the church, since I am not a muso.

On Saturday morning, it looked like it was all going wrong. Bids had suddenly jumped overnight from £51.00 to £222.52, and this having started the auction at 99p. However, I looked at the feedback record for the woman in pole position, and found that three times out of four in the last year she had failed to pay for auctions she had won. I cancelled her bids, and banned her from ever bidding on anything I sell. Back to £51, then. That guy must have been pleased: his maximum bid was £200.00.

Seasoned eBayers will know, though, that most of the action happens near the end. In the last twenty minutes of the auction, it took off. £155, £165, £222.52 – that figure again – I hurriedly checked the record of the bidder! Until finally, the piano sold for five hundred and ten of our finest English British pounds. If you don’t believe me, click here. The winner was a lady from Staffordshire who had not asked any questions, and like everyone else bidding, had not seen the instrument, even though I had offered in my item description to arrange viewings. It’s a long way and a lot of money. And within ten minutes of the auction finishing, she had paid me via PayPal.

What an end to a frantic weekend! That kind of money will make a difference to our little chapel.Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Hi Dave that’s great news about the piano…i am thinking about selling my upright piano…perhaps i will get you to do it for me !!!!….the prince Caspian fun day was a huge success…loved the magician…did you see his buisness card?..if not i will have to show you as its really funny (well i think so but my sense of humour is bizzare at times!!!)
    Loved the new Mission Praise…couldnt believe it when i saw number 1000+ on the hymn board…shows how old the other books were!!…all in all despite having a hectic weekend it was a resounding success for you ….topped off with Germany being beaten!!!!…for once i agree with you on a football result!!!!


  2. Bill,

    Thanks – glad to be of service! As much as anything, I wrote this up for the sheer fun of it! This morning, my wife asked me if I were still on a high about the piano! Sadly, doing the school run soon brings you down to earth!


  3. Paula,

    I’m sure I can take a reasonable commission for selling your piano. 🙂

    Glad you enjoyed the Prince Caspian day – I didn’t see the magician’s business card, though. Do tell me about it.

    Yes, the new Mission Praise does bring us closer to up to date. We’ll have to use the video projector for other stuff that isn’t in it, of course.

    And isn’t it great to be smug about the Germans? Not exactly Vorsprung Durch Technik, were they? 🙂


  4. Sounds like a fabulous weekend – very interested to hear about your ebay baby grand experience – we have one here at our manse & tried to sell it or even give it away to local shops & no one was interested , perhaps we will have to try ebay too! Is this lady paying for delivery or you?
    Good blog by the way – im on sabbatical & have found your blog this last month. Thanks Neil


  5. Neil,

    Thanks for the kind comments – it was good to discover your blog, too, as a result of your comment here.

    We put the piano on eBay as ‘local pickup only’. This afternoon, the buyer has been in touch, wanting the exact address of the church to arrange collection. It’s going to cost her a lot, both in van hire and perhaps in specialist help to move and load it.

    Enjoy the rest of your sabbatical – my next one is early next year, and I’m looking forward to it.


  6. Dear Dave,

    That’s just the kind of weekend we all need to hear about more often! Isn’t God good?! Thanks for sharing what could have been a very stressful time.
    We had a fabulous Sunday finale to the Celebrating Community Festival too
    ( and it was wonderful to be able to hold it outdoors. The weather had looked pretty precarious in the morning and the forecast was rain at 4 o’clock so we were incredibly blessed that the sun shone all afternoon and was still blazing at 6.30pm when it ended! The strong breeze didn’t stop us worshipping either, even though Graham Gooch would have been proud of my catching skills when my music book got blown off the stand 3 times!


  7. Mary,

    It was a stressful time, up to and including Sunday morning! I was very tired, and doing my headless chicken impersonation.

    Glad to hear your event went well, too.


  8. I’m glad you sold the piano, and that our church pianist didn’t see it was for sale! Otherwise he might have bid for it on behalf of the church, and we would have been landed with a lovely instrument that we don’t have space for.


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