[The reason we started recording our sermons was for those who miss the service, for shut-ins, for folks who might want to share with others.]
I will also include a few extra things in this post, such as the sign outside the church, the bulletin cover, etc.
“Giving Everything We Have”
Mark 12:38-44 (CEB)
November 11th, 2018 (25th Sunday after Pentecost, Veterans Day)
Mark 12:38-44 (CEB)
38 As he was teaching, he said, “Watch out for the legal experts. They like to walk around in long robes. They want to be greeted with honor in the markets. They long for places of honor in the synagogues and at banquets. They are the ones who cheat widows out of their homes, and to show off they say long prayers. They will be judged most harshly.”41 Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny.“I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury.Jesus called his disciples to him and said, All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had, even what she needed to live on.”
THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD.
THANKS BE TO GOD.
Today we continue in the Gospel of Mark. Today’s passage can be looked at in several different perspectives.
I suggest that this passage allows us to see stewardship in a different light. Let’s look at it through the lens of stewardship. At the end, I will suggest some other ways we might look at this passage. As we prayerfully consider the passage, may we be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
The stewardship theme comes from this passage as the widow is giving her all to the temple treasury. What IS stewardship? Is it only giving of our money?
No, when we talk about stewardship, we are talking about being stewards of anything that we can give: time, energy, gifts, all resources, and yes, even financial resources.
[If you ever want to know where your money goes, you can see the chart in the UMHandbook on page 25.][These are available on site at each of the three churches in the Holston Georgia Parish.]
Giving, in whatever form---be it time, energy, gifts, or finances--comes down to being a matter of the heart. What we give, what we do comes from our hearts, from our relationship with God.
We see that in today’s passage, where Jesus points out that the widow has given all she had.
Physically and financially, what DID she give? She gave 2 lepta. A lepta was the smallest Greek copper coin. It was equivalent to about the size of our dime. Each lepta was worth about 1/128th of a single day’s pay. One source I found noted that these coins were actually bronze, that they were minted during the reign of Alexander the Great (336-323 BC) and remained in circulation up to the time of Christ. A lepta could buy a bath at the public bathrooms.
This is all this widow had. It wasn’t much. Yet it was everything. Her choice was to give it to the temple treasury.
The poor weren’t required to give, yet she gave. The widow reminds us that giving is a matter of the heart.
What do we learn from the widow who gave her all?
What does it mean for us to give our all today?
Because we have established that giving isn’t solely giving of our finances, let’s consider giving our love as one way of stewardship that which God gives us to give others.
Have we given all we have in sharing the love of Christ with others?
Who isn’t here? (Look around…. Those who normally come, but might be out for whatever reason…. How can we reach out to them? Call? Send a card?)
Who isn’t here? (those who don’t already have a church home, are put off by the church, or who have never been to church--who in your neighborhood, where you shop, where you work, etc.?)
How are we doing in engaging folks in conversation, getting to know their names, building relationships, asking them questions about their lives, telling them about our faith as that relationship grows, and inviting them to a dinner, a gathering, a picnic in the pavilion, a worship service, etc.?
What is a practical action you can take today, this week to become a better steward of what God has given you to give to others? Whether that is giving of your time, your energy, your gifts, your money, think about something practical you can offer. Write it down.
As we look at this passage and consider how it speaks to us, in Dancing with the Word, Rev. Janet Hunt noted three reminders that this passage might offer:
- A reminder to pay attention to those we might normally ignore — to pause long enough to hear the stories behind the most obvious one. For oh, don’t you just wish Jesus had stopped her and asked her where she lived, what routines made up her every day, how long since her husband died, or what finally compelled her to come and give away her last bit of money that day?
She then went on to offer to some reflection questions:
- What do you think Jesus is trying to teach in his using the widow’s gift in his teaching today?
Lastly, as we look at this passage, maybe there is a glimpse into Jesus. Jesus points out to his disciples this widow who is giving all she has, literally “the whole of her life” (verse 44). She is giving this to a system that is corrupt and condemned. From here in Mark, Jesus goes from public ministry to the temple discourse to the passion narrative. Jesus gives the whole of his life to a system that is corrupt and condemned. What can we learn from the passage if we look at it in this light? We can see that we too are called to give our all, give everything we have, give the whole of our life for a world, a system that is corrupt and condemned. (ideas and notes from Feasting on the Word, Pete Peery, 287, 289)
Because of our relationship with God, we freely share the gift that we received and we do not judge who is or who is not worthy of such a gift of what we have to offer. We are called to offer what we have.
James Edwards reminds us in The Gospel According to Mark: “No gift, whether of money, time, or talent, is too insignificant to give if it is given to God.” (382)
We remember that it all belongs to God to begin with and that what we are giving is not ours, but God’s.
May we be the church that Jesus calls us to be, to bring hope and healing to a world that desperately needs it.
May we give everything we have for the sake of sharing the good news with others, recognizing that Jesus knew how to take time apart to rest, pray, and prepare in order to be able to give all that he gave. Jesus gave of himself from his relationship with God.
We, too, are called to be diligent in taking time apart to rest, pray, and prepare as we follow Christ’s example, giving from our relationship with God.
The widow’s example is all about discipleship.
As we give from our relationship with God, we will continue to grow as disciples of Christ, continuing the ripple effect of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
May it be so.
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Comments and feedback are always welcome. I'm interested to learn about you and your journey.
May there be adventure on your journey,