Early memories of the offering basket are not pleasant. No, our first meeting of the offering basket was not a high moment for our family.
That Sunday we were in an iron grip on either side of our mother when the offering basket came by. Momma was busy singing, and we found little to do with only one hand each.
Kent and I must have been young, maybe 4 or 5. The basket came by and this was the first time we had ever seen the like. Dollar bills, great handfuls of change, and even some checks were in that humble basket.
Kent’s mouth made an “O”, as I took the basket from the old lady next to me, and passed it to Kent, amazed that this old lady didn’t empty the basket for herself. She looked poor, like she needed some new socks or hankies. Old ladies always wear their hankies out.
Kent grabbed as much paper money as he could, and went for the coins. Stuffing them into his pockets in rapid-fire, Kent glowed with gleeful greed.
Get the coins! I hissed. Get the silver coins!
Momma came out of her worship and saw the money disappearing into Kent’s pockets and down his pants.
Oh, it was bound to happen: Momma dropped our hands, I dropped the basket and Kent knocked it up high into the air. Money spread everywhere like fluttering leaves and nuggets of gold.
Momma dragged us out of the church in a red-faced flight, muttering all the way down the aisle. Once out of sight, she just about stripped Kent down naked to get all the money. She gave us a talking-to about the money being for God, and that we were stealing from God.
Kent and I were never allowed near another offering basket; the ushers skipped our row altogether. We didn’t know why God needed our money, but it had something to do with “offering”.