And they came, everyone whose heart was stirred,
and everyone whose spirit was willing,
and brought the Lord’s offering…
In his book The Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs describes the experience of his first attempt at tithing, the Biblical obligation to give 10% of one’s income back to God.
I settle on several organizations…and donate about 2 percent of my income. That’s as much as I can do in one shot…as I gave away money, I think I might have felt God’s pleasure. I know: I’m agnostic. But still—I feel His pleasure. It’s a warm ember that starts at the back of my neck and spreads through my skull. I feel like I’m doing something I should have been doing all my life.
I love this passage because it demonstrates how the amount of money is not the point of the spiritual discipline of generosity. Jacobs had given money to charity in the past, but this was his first time making an offering, of really thinking through how he was going to use his resources to engage in God’s work. He literally warmed to the idea and, feeling more connected to God than he ever had, he went on give away another 8% of his (after taxes!) income. It changed him.
This is why the offertory is a part of our service of Holy Eucharist. In that moment, it’s not about church bills or staff salaries. It’s about participating in God’s work of self-giving and allowing ourselves to experience the pleasure God has in showering us with divine grace. The same is true for offering fresh flowers on the altar and even for burning candles. Yes, they are beautiful, but the offering is sacred.
This is why we have put “E-Giving” cards and “I give my heart to God” hearts in the pews and the narthex. Our Sunday liturgy invites us to bring our private devotions into community, so that we pray, praise, receive blessing, and make our offerings together. E-giving and financial hardship need not be barriers to participating in this part of our worship.
So let others hear you pray and sing without worrying about how great it is and use these tools we have provided to let others see you give without worrying about how much it is. Be a part of the mystery of Christ’s Body, participate fully in worship, and feel God’s pleasure in our devotion.