Thursday, December 03, 2009

20 cents

Every now and then I fall into some nostalgic mood – usually it follows events such as receiving a funny message in Facebook from old friends or reading a reflective post on an old friend or family member’s blog.

Lately, every Sunday during tithes & offering, a switch in my brain seems to flick on and bring back images and memories of Sunday School and our own tithes & offering session.

The old BCCM hall would be filled with bright faces of children all in their Sunday best. Girls in frilly dresses, beribboned hair and shiny patent shoes, and boys with shirts tucked-into shorts and socks pulled up to their knees, hair neatly parted and brylcreemed to one side – oh, I will never forget that image to my dying day.

I would receive a 20 cent coin from mummy or daddy to put into the collection bag. From memory, I think 20 cents was the general standard at that time among my Sunday School peers. As the collection bag was passed down the aisle, you could hear the clinking of coins being dropped unreservedly one by one.

I’m not sure why this part of the worship always seemed so exciting to me, perhaps the solemn air about it made me feel I was participating in something highly important. This was highlighted by the ‘offering song’ we always sang prior to the collection being taken up...

All to Jesus I surrender

All to Him I freely give

I will always love and trust Him

In His presence daily live

I surrender all

I surrender all

All to Jesus I surrender

I surrender all

It was a very slow, melancholy tune… we would be up standing, our high pitch childish voices ringing throughout the hall, clutching our 20 cent coins, ready to drop it in as the offering bag came our way. Apparently it was at some point here, one boy (Irwin) would always drop his coin on the floor, at which point his companion (Justin) would laugh and poke fun at him.

All of this contributed to the general feeling importance about the whole ceremony. Furthermore, children find handling money very exciting when they are first given the privilege. 20 cents is not much money to an adult, especially in the context of today’s economy, but it’s a tremendous responsibility for a child… 20 cents = four pieces of White Rabbit sweets OR a popsicle tube OR a potong aiskrim stick… wow… 20 cents can go a long way in those days.

Over time, 20 cents was increased to 50 cents… and later on to a dollar… etc… no matter the amount, we would duly put in the coin in the offering bag every Sunday.

This was the age of innocence… before the temptations of the world came in to plague us.

One form it manifested in was (*cue dramatic music*) ‘The Soft Drink Vending Machine’

You see during weekdays, the hall was also used for other recreational activities like badminton or for social gatherings. I suppose it made sense for the management to respond to general customer need or demand – in this case, soft drinks on demand.

From that point onwards, the Sunday School Teachers started to notice a slight dwindling in amount of the offering collection. Alas! The lure of sugary carbonated drinks was just too much for some kids to hold back from. Thankfully with a little reaffirming of values (and I imagine some parental discipline as well) the issue got under control.

So what can we learn from this in relation to ‘giving’?

#1. Give with the innocence of a child. As children we had no qualms releasing that 20 cent coin, because we had complete faith and trust in the hands that gave it to us in the first place. Learn to give without reservation, because you can be fully assured of God’s provision for your life.

#2. Learn to prioritise (and handle temptations). The lure of ‘want to haves’ and ‘want more’ will always be there. The solution was not to ask someone to take away the vending machine. Instead we had to learn how to resist the temptation and develop the inner strength in the way of obedience. The money was not ours, it was entrusted to us to put in the collection bag – so it is with us today.

1 comment:

  1. this post made me smile as i imagine myself sitting among the congregation. i came a lot later than most of you, but the space and vibe during the offering remained familiar. thanks for the trip back to BCCM KK. *hug*

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