It has been almost five years since I moved to Suttons Bay. That anniversary will be on June 12. And so it has been almost five years that I have been attending Suttons Bay Congregational Church. Almost immediately I felt right at home in the pews, tuning in to Pastor Robin's animated sermons and heartfelt prayers. But there was one part of the worship service that especially touched my heart: the call to collect the offering.
My church back in Illinois was a very integral part of my life, not only because I was a member, but because I was also the Ministry Assistant (aka church secretary). Most every part of the worship service, from recruiting scripture readers to ordering seasonal flowers, from changing paraments to printing up the bulletins, was included in my job description. Needless to say, I was intimately familiar with the wording used during the service. Just before the organist began the offertory, the pastor would say "The offering will now be taken." Ok, I never had a problem with that until I attended SBCC. Here, "The offering will now be given and received" was like a breath of fresh air.
Wow! What a difference a few words make! When the offering is "taken", I could practically see the hands reaching for my wallet in a somewhat stealthy way. When the offering is "given and received", there is a calm acknowledgement of gratitude and thanksgiving for the blessings of treasure in our wallet. No stealthy hands here. No one is checking to see the denomination of the cash you drop in the plate. No one is thinking negatively if you just pass that plate along and don't put anything in. Who is to know what your schedule of giving is? And who are we to judge what and when our neighbor puts their donation in the plate? We give because we want to, because we need to, because this church does so much with what is placed in those brass plates on a weekly basis. We give, the church receives. And because of those actions, the church gives and the community receives. And the circle keeps turning.
Thank you for the gifts you give us,
of time, talent and treasure.
Thank you for the need in our hearts
to pass those gifts along to others
in your name and in the name
of Jesus Christ.