Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sunday Services (26 Feb.) – Offerings

Previous missioners to Lui had told us to expect this. The people of Lui do not have money. I’m not even sure there is a functioning currency in Lui. So when they go to church and the offering is collected, it is nothing like it is here in the U.S. where we put our cash and checks into the offering plate. It’s more like I imagine it was in the early days of Christianity. People bring whatever gifts they have. It may be a scant handful of seeds or grain. It may be a piece of fabric. It may be a pretty leaf or rock that a child has found.

And they do not just pass the offering plate among the pews. One or two people stand up near the altar, and the people come forward with their offerings.

This was the first place where our lack of “spendable” currency struck me. We had (by comparison) so much material wealth! But we had no currency that they could use. Fortunately, Archdeacon Robert would slide some Ugandan dollars into our hands, and we would contribute that. But after my first day out in the villages, I learned to “pack an offering.” One of the things I had heard was that they yearned for pens and pencils, and I had brought dozens of those with me on the trip. So each morning before heading out, I would grab several of those, and – when the offering came – share them with the other missioners so we could put them into the offering basket. I think this experience will forever change my experience of how we collect the “offering” in our parishes in the U.S.

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