We are to understand that in the Offertory, "when the bread and the wine [and the money] are brought forward by representatives of the people, we are bringing our lives to God [in Jesus] so that he can fill them with his Life." (The Rev. Dr. Leander Harding)
In my sermon last Sunday, I “exegeted” the part of our weekly service called “the Offertory,” the bridge between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Sacrament. I explained the narrative, historical, and biblical contexts of the Offertory, and together we learned the significance of this moment in both our Sunday worship and in our daily lives. In Christ, we are restored to our original vocation as a kingdom of priests: Everything held up to God and celebrated as a gift of God's love and communication of God's life to humanity—"a priestly existence, an existence of grateful offering to God" (Fr. Leander again!). I encourage you to listen to the entire sermon, but here are the key points of what happens at the Offertory:
Our understanding of God is renewed. He is the Creator God who sustains and is sovereign over the universe, over every nation and every person, and He alone is the source of Life. "All that exists is God's gift to [humanity], and it all exists to make God known to [us], to make [our] life communion with God." (Alexander Schmemann)
Our understanding of our lives is reoriented. Everything we have is gift, and we are to receive it with thankfulness, cultivate it with faithfulness, and offer it to God to be used for his life-giving purposes.
Our understanding of Christ is refreshed. Jesus alone perfectly lived the priestly existence we are supposed to live. “He Himself was the perfect Eucharist,” writes Alexander Schmemann. “He offered Himself in total obedience, love and thanksgiving to God. God was his very life. And he gave this perfect and Eucharistic life to us. In Him God became our life.”
Which is why we must give our lives entirely to Christ. And when we do....
Our humanity is restored. Offering the fullness of our lives in Christ to God returns us to our original vocation as a kingdom of priests—which is what the Offertory communicates. This offering to God of bread and wine and money is our offering to Him of ourselves, of our life and of the whole world in Jesus, so that he can fill them with his life.
Your Pastor in Christ,