Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Stop passing the offering plate
Another blog I frquently read has a tongue-in-cheek diatribe about maybe getting rid of the time honored practice of passing the collection plate during church services. The blogger remarked that doing this every Sunday robs it of how offering our own gifts, meager as they are, like the woman who offered only two mites compared to the lofty sums of gold paid by the wealthy, is a reflection of our love for God. Now, he went on further to say that other "every Sunday" acts like the recitation of the Lord's prayer, a sermon, reading the Scriptures, etc. should also go because if those acts are present every Sunday, they will become "less special." Needless to say, the person who wrote this is NOT an Orthodox.
But, why not stop the practice of passing around the plate? In my parish, only on Sunday Divine Liturgies are the collection plates passed. This is never done at Vespers or on weekday Liturgies or services. And that may be due to the fact that there are few people there in the first place. Still, why not stop this entirely? The collection plate is always passed at my church during the singing of "Axion os estin" (It is truly right). Granted that this hymn is well known and is sung at more than the Divine Liturgy, but how many people are distracted by opening their wallets or purses to find some money to put in there? And how many more people are distracted by wondering when the plate will get to their location? They are not focusing on the words of the hymn, which invariably sums up our Incarnational Theology that God is With Us, but focusing on the money we give to the church.
My question: If this practice were to stop altogether, would people then forget to contribute their pledges and tithes? If it wouldn't, then why continue with it? It's a needless distraction.
I'm probably going to be in the minority on this one and I'm not trying to disparage giving back to our Lord, but why must it be done in a way which not only takes away our attention from the Divine Liturgy, but also could encourage people to judge others (look at that person; he didn't put money in the tray. Sinner!). I'm going to bring this up at the next voters meeting and see how much traction this will gain. I'm sure it will be laughed at or just dismissed, but I've always believed in lost causes!