The OffertoryIn Perspective Essay Research Paper The

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The Offertory?In Perspective Essay, Research Paper The Offertory?In Perspective The offertory procession, as described in the rubrics of the LBW, and in detail in the Manual on the Liturgy is criticized in Making Sense: An Exploration of Word and Sacrament. Our customary format of brief response papers does not allow sufficient space to enter dialogue regarding this practice. This paper is an exploration of the issues raised by this ritual practice and the criticism and suggestions noted in Making Sense, to the purpose of entering the dialog about this issue. The position taken in Making Sense is: ?The offertory is primarily a practical action, preparing the bread and wine for the meal. ?The procession of the bread and wine to the altar was not a uniform practice of the

ancient church. ?The procession detracts from the centrality of the Eucharistic Prayer and the Distribution. ?The procession shifts the focus ?from God?s gifts to our own.? The suggestion is to receive monetary gifts while the table is set; music may be used during the collection. The offertory prayer is omitted and the service proceeds with the Great Thanksgiving. I suggest that this position results from a confusion of two distinct ?offertories? which are ritually combined: the monetary collection, and the preparation of the table. The reception of monetary gifts during the Eucharistic service is uncommon in the history of the church. Although some ancient authorities speak of collections in kind and of money for the purpose of the care of the poor (and possibly of the clergy

as is implied in the pastorals), this collection does not seem to have been linked with the Eucharistic action. The synagogue service does not contain such a collection, nor, apparently, did the mystery religions. Regardless, by the Middle Ages there was no monetary collection during the Mass. Money for relief of the poor was collected in receptacles in the building and by mendicants. After the Reformation the situation is not materially altered (one of the Orthodox reforms included forbidding begging and enhancing the use of the poorbox). The primary support of the parishes was from the government?a situation still prevailing in the established churches in Europe. The collection of money during worship is primarily an American phenomenon arising from the need to finance the

congregation?s activities. The need to collect money for this purpose was resisted by many Lutheran emigrants. In particular, some resisted collecting money during worship. This battle, however, is long over. It is highly unlikely that any move to an alternative means of collecting contributions would be successful. Collecting money is not one of the purposes of worship; it is not a necessary activity in the Eucharistic service; but no parish in the USA can survive long if it consistently omits this custom. The practice of ?passing the plate,? then, would seem to be a ?given? feature of worship, whether or not it makes any ritual sense. In terms of our categories, it is a practical action rather than a rhetorical one. Theologically (at least in stewardship sermons) and in terms

of folk piety, however, the donation of money to the congregation and the church is seen as a response of the people to the Gospel. Commonly the money is thought of as given to God rather than to the church. It is not a trivial response in a society that values money as much as does ours. It is, for many, a challenge to ?put your money where your mouth is.? There is no place in the ordo where the collection fits neatly. If it is placed prior to the readings or the sermon it lacks any response character and looks like a payment for worship. When placed immediately after the sermon, as in CW and SBH, it has a character of response, but with the prominence of the sermon as a climax to the liturgy of the word this position can make the offering appear to be an evaluation of the