This past weekend my mother celebrated her 60th birthday. My parents threw a huge party that included relatives from both sides of the family, lots of friends, and members of the families that my brother and I married into.
At some point during the party my dad looked down and happened to notice that the pants he was wearing had acquired some tears and frayed edges, so he started joking about taking up a “love offering” from the guests in order to cover the cost of some new clothes.
(For those of you who are not recovering Baptists, a “love offering” is a special, voluntary collection taken up whenever a guest pastor or visiting musical group participates in a church’s worship service.)
My sister-in-law and her fiance were among the first guests to leave, and as they were making their way to the door my dad caught up with them, huddled them together over in a corner of the kitchen, and with an absolutely straight face told them that he was giving all of the party guests an opportunity to contribute to his special “love offering”.
My sister-in-law’s fiance immediately jumped back about 3 feet, with a look of absolute horror on his face.
“Oh, I guess you’ve never been to a Baptist church,” my mom said, puzzled by his reaction.
“No, I’m Catholic,” he said.
So we explained to him our idea of a “love offering”, and he relaxed a bit.
“Never sneak up on me again and start whispering about a ‘love offering’,” he said, shaking his head. “For a minute there I thought I was gonna have to do something I’d have to repent of later.”