Luke 20:45-47; 21:1-4
February 17, 2019
I have to admit, my first impulse
wouldn’t be to honor this woman’s generosity.
My first impulse is to be worried for her.
Wonder if she’s making good decisions.
If she gave all she had,
what does she do afterwards?
I think mostly we think of widows as
older with grown children,
but widows can be young too.
|The Widow's Mite|
She could have kids at home who
need to eat and be taken care of too.
She should be receiving donations, not giving them.
Some might have said that her gift was actually irresponsible.
But Jesus honors her.
He sees people putting in more money,
that money probably would buy more
and fund more for the temple.
But Jesus points out this woman’s gift
because he knows it’s everything she has.
Lots of stewardship sermons
turn this into a
story about how it’s not about comparing
our gifts to other people’s gifts,
we should just be concerned that our
gift is a goodly portion of what we have.
But we shouldn’t cheapen this widow’s
gift by boiling it down to percentages.
Jesus says she put in everything she had.
Not a percent, or a tithe, but everything.
Everything she had to live on.
Her whole living, her whole life.
Why would she do this?
Why did she give everything?
She gave two copper coins, why didn’t she give just one?
And save the other for food or rent or heating?
Her gift almost seems foolish.
A pastor I don’t know from another
denomination on Facebook said that us
there was a woman in his congregation
who was older and alone and she wanted to liquidate
all of her considerable assets and give what she had to the
local homeless shelter, and she was
planning on living the rest of her life at
that homeless shelter and working with the people there.
The pastor was writing because his congregation
was trying to get the pastor to talk the woman out of it.
I can understand the congregation’s apprehension
Her friends didn’t want to see her making a mistake
with the rest of her life and voluntarily living
someplace that most people don’t want to live.
It seems ridiculous to give up the independence,
comfort, and self-determination that money can give you,
even if it’s a small amount, just enough money to live on.
I think if I were her pastor, I might try to talk with her
and find out if she really wanted to do it.
See if she was making good decisions otherwise.
Maybe advise her take a couple of days and a couple aspirins
and see how she feel in the morning.
Because by most standards of this world, this is crazy.
Most people don’t things like that.
I would have lots of trouble doing it.
I’ve known many good, faithful Christians, but I’ve never known
anyone who’s done anything like what these two widows have done.
It seems foolish. But maybe God is looking for foolish.
Isn’t there some element of foolishness to our faith?
Martin Luther King said that faith is taking the first step,
even though you can’t see the whole stair case.
That doesn’t sound wise, but it’s a good
description of what we’re asked to do as disciples.
We’re asked to believe in a God we cannot see but
we’re asked to build our lives around worship and service to this God,
to trust in God’s grace, and love and forgiveness
even when the world often shows us the contrary.
We’re asked to believe that we, together, are the body of Christ
formed by our baptism.
We follow a savior, who by all accounts
did not succeed in this world,
his life ended with him arrested, dishonored, and crucified.
And this crucified man, this failure by the world’s standards ,
has asked us to take up our own cross and follow him.
We are asked to love and forgive beyond reason.
To switch all these world’s priorities around,
give up our race to the top and make it a race to the
lowliest and the least, put the first last and the last first,
to love our enemies and pray for those who would harm us.
Paul said that the message
of the cross is foolish to everyone else,
but to us it’s the power of God.
This woman foolishly gives everything away.
And Jesus points it out, because out of all of those
people in that holy temple,
she is the one in the story who is reflecting God to the world.
As foolish an idea as it seems, God gives us everything, nothing held back.
God gives us all of creation, all of our lives,
all of the riches of this universe that we can touch –
and see and things we can’t even touch or see.
We abuse it and misuse it. We value temporary things,
and ignore and throw away the stuff that God values.
But still, God still continues to give, and continues to love.
And in this poor widow and her gift of her whole life,
Jesus sees God.
And Jesus also sees the
embodiment of his own ministry.
This woman models Jesus’ own call.
Sitting in front of that temple,
that building raised to the worship of God,
Jesus sees what he needs to do,
he knows that he will soon give his whole living,
every last bit of his body and blood, his whole life
for this world and for each one of us.
God has bet everything on us
God is all in.
God has no plan B besides humanity.
And God gave us Jesus who
And God gave us Jesus who
put everything on the line, and everything on the cross
to save each one of us.
Jesus honors the widow who foolishly gives everything to God.
Jesus is saying that the gifts that we give
Whether its two mites or a whole life,
are more than the sum of their small parts,
because once given, it becomes part of God.
Now, we might not be as foolish as this widow,
we might not have the courage to give everything away,
but whenever we give away ourselves,
whether it’s our money, our time, our love, or our hearts
whenever we taking first step down
that staircase we can’t see the end of,
we become part of God’s foolish and
generous gift to this world.