Put It In the Basket
One of my favorite stories of generosity comes from the church secretary with whom I worked at First Christian Church in Centralia, IL. She didn’t attend our congregation for Sunday worship, but she was a regular at her own church. She also had a few grandchildren, all around the ages of 3-6. Being a faithful grandmother, she would make sure as many grandchildren as possible came with her each week to Sunday service. Evidently, her custom was to give each child a dollar bill to “put in the basket” as the offering was collected. She would also pack in her purse an assortment of snacks just in case the grandchildren were rambunctious and she wanted them to settle down.
One Sunday morning, she sat in her usual pew between a collection of her young ones. She had already given each child their dollar bill and on this day had given each one a cookie to help keep them quiet. As the offering basket was making its way down the row, the granddaughter sitting next to her held a dollar bill in one hand and a half-eaten cookie in the other. As the usher held the basket in front of the child, still holding both items, one in each hand, her grandmother whispered, “Put it in the basket!” Her granddaughter, looked first toward one hand and then the other, hesitated, and… promptly put the cookie in the basket!
That story reminds me how hard it is to part with what is really valuable to us. This week at our church we are celebrating Consecration Sunday when we accept not only regular offerings but Estimates of Giving for what we think we can offer in support of the church in the coming year. I hope that those who give to Central Christian Church know how much we value the commitments given; how much we know it isn’t easy to part with valuable resources; how grateful we are for the generosity of those who believe in us.
And, as one who has spent his life in the not-for-profit world, I hope that those who may be reading this and have nothing to do with our particular congregation know that all the non-profit organizations you may support and believe in also give thanks for your commitments of generosity… and for everything you “put in the basket.”