We take up a collection in some of our services at HHBC - although these days many people give directly into our bank account. I have heard that in some churches they now pass round a chip-and-pin reader, but I don't think we will be going down that route!
In Exodus 35 and 36, the people bring their offerings of gold, silver and bronze for the Tabernacle, but also gifts in the form of acacia wood, cloth, leather, spices and olive oil.
And then a wonderful thing happens - they discover that they have too much! They have to stop work on the Tabernacle in order to send out an announcement that people should stop giving. I like this bit of the story so much that here it is in full:
The people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, ‘The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.’ Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: ‘No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.’ And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work. (Exodus 36:3-7)
So far we have not reached that situation with out building project, so here you go folks: www.give.net.
I'm only joking (I think)! But giving to God is a serious business, and it is important that what we give (and the amount we give) comes from a willing heart. The passage is very clear that the Israelites were making these offerings of their free will, rather than being coerced.
I wonder whether this generosity had anything to do with the way in which God had responded to the golden calf fiasco. They knew they had been forgiven much, and so they loved much (cf Luke 7:36-50).
Questions to ponder: This week, as we consider how much Jesus has done for us - how he held nothing back - what should our response be? I'm honestly not talking about the building fund now - but is our worship this Easter going to be appropriate given what we have received?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.