Rev. Dana Allen Walsh is the Senior Pastor of South Church in Andover, MA.
Scripture: Mark 12:41-44 (NRSV)
He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’
Reflection: Everything She Had
This story is one that stewardship committees and preachers often reach for during the annual pledge drive. We hold up the widow as a pillar of generosity, using her to justify our “ask.”
Yet, then are we really seeing her at all?
We are reluctant to truly see the woman in this story because we fear being her and we fear acting like her. We fear the desperation and loneliness of her life, while at the same time we fear the boldness and strength of her choice to offer her “whole life” to Jesus.
Yet, God sees her, just as God sees us and cares about our struggles, challenges, and moments of deep despair.
It is doubtful that the religious elite who were parading through the Temple saw her. It is doubtful that the disciples noticed her small token offerings. But Jesus sees her and lifts her up, not out of pity and sympathy, but as an illustration of God’s dream for this world.
God’s kingdom is for the humble, the hopeless, the marginalized, and the brokenhearted. It’s not for those jockeying for power, status, and control. Our faith is not transactional, it is transformational. It is about the transformation of our lives, relationships, families, churches, and communities so that they are centered on the generous love of God, a love that comes with no strings attached.
In God’s kingdom, the first will be last and the last will be first. It is not Caesar’s kingdom, one of debt and duty, but instead, it is an invitation to give freely out of gratitude. Jesus is dissolving the Roman power structure of quid-pro-quo and rebuilding in its place the free gifts of love, grace, and belonging.
The widow’s mite is significant. It is a might greater than any power. It is a might greater than any disguised privilege. It is a might greater than camouflaged control.
The widow’s mite is God’s might. It is a might revealed in love and loyalty. In giving and grace. And in gratitude and response.
Good and Loving God, bring your transforming power to every aspect of our lives so that we see and notice your abundant love, grace, and mercy and give us the strength to respond with gratitude and grace.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the victims and their families of the 599 mass shootings already carried out in 2021
- For the families and friends of more than 743,000 who have died due to the Covid-19 disease
- For Rev. Alice O’Donovan, Bridge Pastor of Church of the Good Shepherd, in West Woodstock, CT, as she resumes treatment for cancer.
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the memories of those who left their mark on the world and on us
This Week in History:
November 4, 2016 (5 years ago) The Paris Agreement comes into effect. Though this sweeping international agreement to reduce carbon emissions had the potential to alternate the destructive path of humanity on the climate, many of the world's most significant polluters opted out of the agreement. President Donal Trump announced that the U.S. would opt out of the agreement in June 2017. President Joe Biden signed an order to rejoin the agreement in 2021 on his first day as President.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”