My church had less than 100 members, and we met in a converted warehouse, sitting in folding metal chairs bracketed into rows.
The elders decided that if I was old enough to be saved, I was old enough to be put to work. So, on Sunday nights, it became my job to pass out communion. An older man would say the prayers, and I’d take the tray to the members.
Of course, this was Sunday night, and so only members who’d been “Providentially hindered” from attending that morning took communion. When the prayers were said, each Providentially hindered member would stand, letting me know who was to get the bread or grape juice.
After the third prayer, the one for the offering, I noticed that several members who’d stood for the first two prayers were sitting. This puzzled me greatly. After all, there were five acts of worship, and you had to do all five! Even I knew that! And so, I figured they’d gotten too tired to stand. After all, they were old!
Well, there weren’t that many of them, and I could easily remember who’d stood the first two times. Figuring they were tired, it just seemed the polite thing to do to bring them the tray for the offering. After all, it’s five acts of worship and you have to do all five! It’s hardly good enough just to watch the five acts. Even I knew that!
And I knew about the widow’s mite. No one has so little money that they can’t give anything! I’d have happily received a penny from each Providentially hindered member. But zero? I never even considered that this could be possible.
And so, I took the tray to a woman who was sitting but had been standing and stuck it under her face. She shook her head for some reason. I figured she was palsied. I had seen some old people like that. And so I waited. And waited. And then she reached into her purse, grabbed some green bills, and sheepishly stuffed them into the tray.
I figured I’d done a pretty good deed! This woman was tired and in her tiredness had completely forgotten to have her money ready to give. It was only polite to patiently wait for her to grab her offering. It was worth waiting to relieve her of the awful sin of performing only four acts of worship!
I then went to a man who, like the woman, had tired of standing. He was fumbling through his billfold for money, clearly embarrassed that he’d forgotten to stand! And on the evening went. I made sure every single member participated in the collection, just as God had commanded!
Many years later my dad told me that my actions had prompted a special elders’ meeting. Someone wanted to know if they were going to let me keep on collecting for God or were going to teach me to politely let people decline. The elders decided there was no reason to make me stop! And so for years I was the elders’ designated collection agent on Sunday nights!
I was childish and naive. My views on worship were legalistic. I was a little Pharisee. But, I ask you, was I wrong? Is it wrong to naively and simply expect that those who receive the blessing of the communion should share their blessings with those in need? That those who are blessed by being part of the church should help support the church? That someone should consider their mite unworthy to give to God?