Let us with gladness present the offerings and oblations of our life and labor to the Lord.
Offertory bidding, page 377, BCP
As a child, I was pretty clear what money was. It was the pennies, nickels, and dimes I put in my mite box. It was the nickel it cost to buy a popsicle on a hot summer day. It was the bills Mom pulled from her wallet to pay for groceries. Once, on a frightening night on the highway in the Georgia swamps, it was a whole envelope of bills Mom tossed at me in the back seat, fearing we were about to be robbed, telling me to hide it. For want of a better place, I stuffed the envelope under my sleeping six month old sister, figuring nobody would look there. Nowadays, it’s a whole lot less clear to me what money is. Many people never buy anything with cash. They use a debit or credit card for every purchase they make. The news reported during the worst of the financial crisis that trillions of dollars in assets were lost worldwide. But where did the money go? Nobody had a bonfire and burned tons of dollar bills or euros or yen, and yet supposedly all this money was gone.
It’s an interesting phenomenon, really. While monetary value is of great importance to many people, money, cash, is an increasingly rare commodity. People pay bills online, or have the amount owed simply withdrawn from their bank accounts on a monthly basis. Most people pay their pledges by check, some perhaps on a weekly basis, but many month by month, and some just send in one check at the beginning of the calendar year. As a result, the offertory bidding we hear each week may to some extent fall on deaf ears. Let us with gladness present the offerings and oblations of our life and labor to the Lord. Every week the celebrant reminds us that one of the ways we can show our love of God is by joyfully giving back to God a portion of what God has so generously given us. The oblations are the bread and wine, for those who may be wondering. The offerings we present may be monetary; our pledge payment, cash for a special offering, cash in thanksgiving for something special that has happened in our lives that week. Or our offering may be a commitment of time to work on the building, or feed the hungry, or participate in any other ministry we may have around St. Mary’s or in the larger community. The key is that we are able to rejoice every time we come to church that we are offering to God something of ourselves in the form of our time, our talent, our treasure.