Gleanings – When An Empty Church is a Good Thing

Matthew 5:21-26

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come offer your gift.”

Traditionally, whatever that is, ushers pass plates to collect tithes and offerings. When the ingathering is complete, the ushers present the offering to the celebrant or deacon who has been preparing the table (read altar) for communion.

At our sweet sponsoring church in Norcross the norm bucks the tradition. A large basket is placed upon the table (read altar) and folks walk up and place their tithes and offerings in the basket at their leisure during the preparation or communion. We let Dow (age 3 ½) take ours up (when we don’t mail it in). He takes great pride in being entrusted with this simple act of devotion.

Now imagine applying this teaching to our scene. A man approaches to place his gift in the basket and remembers the misplaced anger he laid upon the Starbucks clerk that morning as he made his way to church. He would place the offering beside the basket and head back to Starbucks to make apologies for (if not repent of) his nastiness. A woman approaches and remembers she gossiped about a fellow church member to a church member. She leaves her gift by the basket and seeks out those members and makes amends.

This is a prescription for an empty church. If every person searched his or her heart before leaving that gift, he would necessarily be on his way. It is hard to imagine that we have not offended someone in the week that follows our corporate worship.

Yes the church would be empty and about that we could cheer! Well, empty till everyone arrived back, now reconciled, and picked their offering up from the table and placed it in the basket. Now that would be an assembly of followers of Jesus!

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