Confession: My least favorite part of church is taking up the offering.
This has nothing to do with how we take it up (into innocent wicker-and-burgundy-felt baskets) or when (slipped between the announcements and the songs), or who or how much or why…
No. It’s all about the drama.
You see, we give our sons an allowance of a dollar a week per child, payable on Saturday in four quarters with the understanding that one quarter goes to Jesus on Sunday.
Problem: I have a very inventive son who loves money.1
1“The love of money is the root of all evil.” Ah. That explains it.
There was the Sunday he forgot to bring his offering quarter along to church.
And then the next Sunday, when he forgot it again.
And then the next, as we headed out the door for church—“Son, did you fetch your offering quarter like I told you?”
“Are you sure?”
Checking right pants pocket. Dry. Checking left pants pocket. Hmm. Checking breast pocket of shirt. Nope. Innocently puzzled look on face of son. “I thought I had it…”
Bilbo and the Ring, my dear, Bilbo and the Ring. “Go get it please.”
And then there was the Sunday when this scenario was reenacted publicly, as he stood in our pew searching through pocket after pocket, the usher standing patiently looking on.
And then the time when instead of dropping the quarter into the plate, he attempted a heroic rescue out on behalf of the quarter his brother had just placed there.
And the Sunday when he put the quarter in—sort of—and pulled it back out, and put it in, and pulled it out… and at our insistence on actual relinquishment, burst into loud wails.
And finally this Sunday, when after much preliminary grooming he put it in beautifully at last—just as his sister returned from Grandma’s pew with a very distressed face. “Mommy! My purse!” Swiftly we dug out her quarter, but not swiftly enough to catch the basket; hastily we chased our prey back the aisle, and captured it near the back. Rapidly we deposited the quarter; quickly we turned about—and nearly flattened the usher who had sneaked up silently behind.
Church doesn’t have to be easy. I expect to labor in prayer, to face deep exposure in confession and testimony, to be scourged with truth in the sermon…
but the offering??
Father, have mercy.