Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear….

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early June, mid 1940’s….

Samuel B. Huey Grade School.

“No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers with dirty looks….”

Boy, were we glad school was over.  Play time, camping for the well-off, go to the shore (never heard it called the ‘beach” until I got to Oklahoma), an automobile trip if your old man had the right gasoline purchase sticker.

Those were the days.

No tie in church, if we went because it’s too hot in there.

PLUS, I save a whole quarter because I did not have to put it in the plate.  Dave next door saved his quarter; Harry across the street saved a quarter and a dime because he was Catholic, and they had two collections, and Frank down the street saved his quarter also.  The Lord’s work took an 85-cent hit in just my block and the relatively few there who were ‘churched.’

First fruits?  Tithes?  Your best given first?

That was stuff the preacher talked about from time to time or when he came to visit.

I hope that I have learned better habits; better giving strategies; better giving regularity; and indeed, the first fruits concept has taken clear shape.  I have indeed learned that the Church is not the church campus and its buildings, it is us – an important concept which is unfortunately lost on many.

Even in the summer when we are taking it a bit easier the grass grows, air cooled buildings need cool air, we still have to see in the nooks and crannies, we need some ice, and cold water all of which cost money.  Yes, money that has been carefully budgeted, BUT budget monies are imaginary and not cash in the bank available to fund things like lawn care or electricity to cool the premises.  Just like at home, the costs go on even when vacations come.

I write all of that in a lighthearted manner just to help bring home the reality of summer offering plate doldrums.

As you and I go about our summer creature pleasures, please remember the ‘first fruits’ to the Lord concept; and, while you are making your next tithe and offering, check and see what the short people at your house are doing with their quarters:  or have you even taught them?

Bill Malone

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