I journeyed there with seminary classmates and professors on a two-week travel seminar through (then) Union-PSCE. Those two weeks were filled with a variety of activities—meeting with leaders of the two Presbyterian denominations of Ghana. Hiking through a rainforest and walking across suspended bridges in the canopy. Visiting a leprosy colony. Touring one of the “slave castles”—the facilities constructed to be the last stop for captured women and men before crossing the Atlantic to be sold in the slave trade.
And while all of these experiences were most memorable (and even life changing), the moment I remembered today was from a worship service we attended.
When it was time to collect the offering, the entire congregation began to dance—in place in the pews, at first, swaying to the beat of traditional drumming. But then, like we do for communion by intinction, we began to process to the front of the worship space, single file, still dancing, offering in hand—or not. Each person made a fist, so as to conceal whether or not there was money clasped inside.
Regardless of having money to give, each and every person in worship came—danced!—forward to joyfully present themselves as an offering to God. If they had money to give, wonderful—but what mattered more was the act of coming to the front, of giving one’s self and one’s service to God in praise and thanksgiving for God’s grace and presence in our lives and in the world around us.
May we all remember this!
Elizabeth Smith-Bartlett is the Associate Pastor at the Larchmont Avenue Presbyterian Church in Larchmont, NY.