Tuesday, August 26, 2014
It was a new church; everything shone with a cared-for appearance. Spotless rugs led to every door. The alter-covers showed intricate needlework on carefully chosen colours and fabric. I felt at home.
When visiting a church, I’m used to putting my offering in an envelope provided in the church pew. I picked the only one available and noticed my six-year-old granddaughter had playfully drawn pictures and printed her name.
Shades of playing the board game Life the previous day, explained her boldly written request “I want $100.00.” Rather than having the elders think I was expecting a reverse offering, I rubbed the request off the envelope. Thinking the sunflowers she’d created from a yellow crayon she’d found in a basket at the end of the pew, as well as the daisies she’d carefully drawn in a row was a playful touch, I removed only her name and address off the face of the envelope. After all, I didn’t want the church treasurer to send me a receipt for my pair of toonies.
To complete my preparation, I placed the envelope on the plate as it was passed by me. Unbeknown to me, my granddaughter spotted her envelope with the carefully drawn row of daisies and sunflowers smiling back at her as it rode along in the offering plate. Much to the panic of her father, she lifted her hand and attempted to rescue her envelope, before he gently touched it.
Showing confusion as to why the envelope had suddenly gone into the hands of adults unknown to her, she put on a pout and began to sulk while sliding down in her seat. During the children' story, she refused to go forward and continued to play with her fingers and look down at her feet. I realized my mistake and hoped that an apology, hug and a visit to the Dairy Queen after church would ease her pain.
I reached into the back of my seat, retrieved two new blank envelopes, and offered them to her. But to no avail, this act of admission of guilt on my part was not received well. She continued to withdraw, in fact twisted out of the seat to stand in the aisle as if to make a quick exit if an appropriate time should materialize.
Acknowledging that she hadn't understood the use of the envelopes, I went over, knelt beside her in the aisle of the church, and said, "Thank you for preparing the envelope. Grandma put some money in it and gave it for God to bless. It was such a nice present with your pretty flowers. I'm sorry if I gave away something you liked. For you to give that which you wanted for yourself makes it very special. That's a true offering. Was it alright to give it?"
She nodded and tried to smile. She returned to the pew, prepared another envelope identical to the first and went on her way to Sunday school. An active act of forgiveness within a service of redemption proved holy ground.
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