Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Happening Right Now On Your Pew

   We gather, sing, pray, and have the Word of God read and preached for our benefit. Then, when all of that is done, the offering comes up in our order of worship as one way we respond to God. For us, we literally offer our gifts back to God that his kingdom might come through our efforts. This is the historic order for Christian worship - though some churches arrange things differently. 
   This Sunday, I walked down during the Doxology to receive the plates - holding these acts of faith in what we can do together with God's help - and present them before the Altar. At the last moment, one more donation was passed over to the ushers from the first row. Afterwards, standing near the front as everyone started to sing the closing hymn, I saw the two young men, both serving as acolytes for only their second times, whisper something between themselves. The younger one leaned over to say, "Thank you." He was thanking the other for helping him get his offering included. 
   I was struck by how honest and humble such small gestures on both of their parts really were. For the one who was thankful for the aid, what a grown-up ability to offer appreciation. For the other who lent a hand, what a model for how we live in Christ.
   I think this is happening on every pew. We are all helping each other out.
   Watching these two young men makes me think, Julie and I should be saying "Thank you" for helping our offerings get to the altar. When you think about it, our contributions are made better with your help. Combined with yours, they go farther, help more, and are spread more broadly. Not only that, but people in every pew are helping to spend our contributions better than we could on our own. From serving in leadership and deciding where to spend as good stewards, to participating on the front line in missions that happen through our combined efforts, we are better together.
   Paul described the church this way in 1 Corinthians 12:
If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you".... But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 
   I think this is happening on every pew. We are all helping each other out. Our pews are filled with the common, the extraordinary, the loved, the struggling, the hopeful, the doubting. The truth is that we are each of these things over time. But, what we bring to the altar and God's efforts is made better because of each other. And for that, we should all say, "Thank you." 
   Out of the mouths of babes... Peace, Scott

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