Growing up, I went to church with my dad every Sunday morning. We drove five minutes down the road to Rivermont Presbyterian Church, parked in the same parking spot, and sat in the same pew. Each Sunday as I got out of the car, my dad reached into his pocket and gave me one quarter. He asked me to drop this in the offering plate as a gift to God. As the organist played familiar tunes, we passed the brass plates and I dropped my quarter in the plate. These twenty-five cents may not have been much, but it was my offering. It was a symbol of my giving what I had (and what I was given) to God.
What do you think of the time for "offering" during a worship service?
Each Sunday, we gather together as a community of faith. We come as we are and enter into worship from all over (mostly through technology) as we seek to learn more about God and Jesus' way of love. We sing hymns, confess our sins to one another and to God, listen to the Word of the Lord, have the opportunity to give an offering, and then are sent forth into the world. The order of worship is no coincidence. It is ordered to reflect what we have learned in Scripture and how we believe God is calling us to live our lives. Worship invites and encourages us to respond faithfully and with our whole selves.
Even as we live stream services, there is a time for "offering." When we meet in person, we pass plates throughout the pews. As we gather online, we share the link to "online giving." Yes, this is traditionally when money is collected; but an offering is more than that. An offering is a response to hearing the Word spoken and shared. Some may think we are "paying for this sermon" or "paying for what we want the church to do." It's important that we remember these offerings are more than coins, paper, and credit card transactions.
An offering is an opportunity for us to give the gifts that God has given us back to God in gratitude, in thanksgiving. In the Episcopal Church, offering refers to the "gifts presented at a church service or other gatherings. At the offertory, prior to the eucharistic prayer, representatives of the congregation bring the people's offers of bread and wine, and money or other gifts, to the deacon or celebrant… Offerings are made as an expression of faith and generosity and ultimately identified with Christ's self-offering for our salvation."
These are not just material gifts that are given. We are symbolically giving our lives to God. Yes, this can be money; but, this can also be sharing our kindness with one another, calling a fellow parishioner, reaching out to a newcomer, and serving our community. We give glory to God through a variety of our gifts.
During worship, I invite you to remember that we can offer our material goods and we can offer our spiritual gifts. We actively participate in worship and in God's ministry in the world with one another. This can be one quarter or one act of kindness.
What are some ways that you can provide an offering towards the ministry of God? How can you contribute to the church through money and/or giving of time and talents?
Gracious and generous God, Creator and Giver of all that is good, we thank you for our many blessings. We acknowledge that all that we have is from you. We offer you thanks and praise for the beauty of the earth, our work, our family, our loved ones, and all the gifts we have been given.
You are with us always. In each dark hour, you are here. In each bright hour, you are here. Blessed by your grace, may we show gratitude by sharing what we have been given.
By serving our brothers and sisters, we serve you. We remain ever grateful for your constant love, the gift of your Son Jesus, and the presence of your Holy Spirit with us. Protect and guide us on our journey, and guide those who are involved in Diocesan, and parish stewardship leadership. We seek to be your faithful stewards. Amen.