Faces on Faith: Five pennies, one pint
Every once in a while someone will suggest that we get rid of pennies altogether. They just clog up the system, such folks suggest. Why not round everything up or down, in terms of cost, and do away with those pesky copper coins?
I suppose that day may come – after all you can’t buy much of anything with a penny. When I was a kid, it would get you a stick of gum, or a piece of licorice. But today? Nothing! Despite that, I’d be saddened if the day came when our smallest coin was abolished. Which may be just a bit of nostalgia on my part. For you see, that’s how I got my allowance in those days long gone. Every week I’d get a 5 cent allowance. Always in pennies. Three for me to spend as I pleased, and two for the offering plate at church. For right from the start, I was taught that giving is a way of life. And giving is measured not so much by what you give, as by what you have left once you’ve given.
I once told someone about my childhood allowance and they said something to the effect that my two pennies were far more than the traditional 10 percent tithe. True enough! But as a kid, I never thought of it that way because, after all, three is more than two – and what I had left after I dropped the two pennies into the plate was still more than what I had given. I could still get my candy or gum, or balsa wood airplane. I gave two pennies and I had three left.
Some of my readers I suspect are blood donors. It’s not really a big deal, once you’ve done it. But I once heard a reportedly true story that puts the matter in a new light.
It seems that a little boy with a rare blood type was in a serious auto accident. He desperately needed a transfusion. But the blood bank was short stocked, as were the surrounding blood banks in the area. His sister, though, was discovered to have the same blood type as her brother.
Now it is very unusual for a child to give blood – but it was a matter of life or death for the little boy. So it was decided to go ahead with the procedure. The sister was asked if she would be willing to donate blood for her brother. It was explained to her that her brother would get very very sick, and maybe even die, if she didn’t. After some thought, she agreed.
The necessary arrangements were made; she was wheeled into his room and the transfusion begun. As the needle was placed into her arm, she winced and closed her eyes. She kept them closed through the whole procedure. Very near the end, she opened her eyes and, looking at the nurse, asked, “Am I dead yet?” Only then did the adults in the room realize that the little boy’s sister misunderstood about what it meant to give blood. Only then did they realize her agreeing to the transfusion was her way of giving all, her way of giving what she thought was her very life; she gave her very best.
So how much have you given others today?
The Rev. Dr. John H. Danner is the senior pastor at Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ.