I went to church at the American Cathedral this morning, the Episcopal church that serves the American and Anglophone community in Paris. Usually I go to the American Church, a multi-denominational Protestant church, but I wanted to try something different. I had never been to the Cathedral, and it was beautiful: Gothic architecture, powerful organ, intricate stained glass. It's like a French church in many ways, except for the flags of US states that line the nave.
In any church service I've been in here, there's a sound that you almost never hear in the US. When they take up the offering, you hear the constant clinking of change. Since French money -- whether the old Franc or now the Euro -- is made up of many more coins in larger denominations that in the US, people who put in 1 or 2 Euro coins or some combination inevitably cause the other coins in the plate to jingle. And, if the plate is metal, as it was this morning, the plate itself makes a sound when the money hits it.
There’s something exciting and worshipful about hearing the sound of money against the offering plate. In the US, we put in checks or bills, and many people do here too. But even a small donation at home of $1 makes no sound, whereas here even a small contribution of 1 Euro announces itself. This is not to say that people try to make noise to show off. But hearing the jingle of Euros as they fill the offering is another kind of music or prayer that is missing in most American churches. It's the sound of God’s work going forward.