This is a question that I am frequently asked by adult congregants after I leave the Sanctuary on Sunday mornings. My answer is that it’s our children’s love offerings, in the form of pink and red felt hearts.
Every Sunday during class time, our toddlers through high school classes hold circle time. Circle time is a weekly ritual that includes an opening prayer, tapping a chime, lighting a Christ candle, a short meditation, a time of personal sharing and blessing each other, followed by a love offering.
While everyone is sitting in the circle, a drawstring bag full of felt hearts is passed around. Each person who is present takes out a felt heart and holds it over their heart. Then everyone recites the love offering affirmation together. After reciting the affirmation, the bag is passed around a second time and everyone puts their love-infused hearts back into the bag.
The bags are collected when the children line up to come into the Sanctuary. I carry the bags and give them to whoever is blessing the children. Then, the children’s love offering gets blessed when we bless them, along with the teachers and angels.
A Felt Heart Full Of Love
The ritual of “felt hearts” has been repeated every Sunday since I’ve been the Director of the Youth Education program at UCOH. Our rationale was that the felt hearts would provide a way for young children who didn’t have any money to feel like they were able to give a meaningful contribution back to their spiritual home. Giving something helps them to feel ownership and a sense of belonging to the spiritual family. It tells them that they matter to the community.
I remember when I was a volunteer teacher, I had an angel named Bill Kimbrough. He took such delight in empowering the young children to give money. He would come to class with a wallet full of one-dollar bills. When we circled up for the love offering, he would hand out the dollar bills to all the kids to put into the offering. It warmed my heart to watch their little faces light up as they gleefully put their dollars into the bag. And Mr. Bill, as we fondly referred to him, would smile ear to ear. It was such a joyful experience for all of us!
Giving Is The Key To Happiness
Over the years, our children and teens gradually shifted to relying on the felt hearts and stopped bringing their own love offerings. Upon reevaluating this practice at UCOH, we decided that it was time to provide children’s love offering envelopes for the older kids and teens. This will help them to grow into a mindset of tithing as adults as well as enable them to experience the joy of giving. As Dear Abby says, “Giving is the key to happiness. When you’re not giving, you’re not living!”
We know that some children don’t get allowances, and some teens don’t have jobs. Thus, giving a small amount like even a dollar may be a stretch for them. However, a parent or grandparent could be the supplier, like Mr. Bill was for his class. As Jesus referred to the widow’s mite, it is not the amount that matters most, but the spirit in which it is given that determines its value.
Give And It Shall Be Given Unto You
The golden rule tells us to do unto others as we would have others do unto ourselves. That’s because what you do unto others, you do to yourself! Jesus said, “Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” This is what I call the golden rule of giving, what you give unto others you give to yourself.
If we are truly one, then certainly anything we say or do or give away affects everyone else as well as ourselves. When we give to our spiritual home, we are investing in its future strength and stability. Which means that we are investing in our own spiritual growth and blessing ourselves as we bless our spiritual supply.
The Grace Of Giving
As Charles Fillmore states, giving is a grace that adds to the spiritual growth of all men in all times. Without giving the soul shrivels, but when giving is practiced, the soul expands and becomes Godlike in the grace of liberality and generosity.
Fillmore explains the grace of giving as having a willing mind and being a cheerful giver. Graceful giving recognizes God as the unfailing source of supply and all increase. As we teach our children spiritual principles, let’s be sure to teach them how to be graceful givers and receivers. And when they grow up, they will be blessed by the principles they live by.
These love offering envelopes will be distributed in the classrooms on Fly Up Sunday and Welcome Sunday.