A true offering is much more than an act of giving; it’s an act of being present...with God and for God.
What a crazy week of fires, deaths and elections. And no, I’m not being ironic. Some victories were won with razor thin margins. And there are a few in which votes are still being counted.
You gotta give it up for the Republicans and their leadership team who gave all they had to secure the US Senate.
And to the hundreds of grass-root organizations and local communities who went above and beyond to get votes needed for the Democrats to win the House.
...the true cost of discipleship – the giving over of one’s self to God so completely and faithfully that there’s nothing left but the Divine image that has been imprinted each one of our hearts.
Today Mark offers us a story about someone who did just that. It’s a story about widow. We don’t know her name, but we do know she showed up to the Temple and literally gave it her all; a sacrifice so great that we still talk about it today.
Read Mark 12:41-44 Here
There are three main characters in this story. The first is the widow. In the eyes of the wealthy or shrewd investors, this woman might seem a bit foolish with her money. They might advise her that her odds are probably better in Vegas than in the church.
If she’s the gambling type, then her ante is huge. Go big or go home! Mark tells us she gives away her only possession. Without hesitation or holding back, she gambles it away, placing her bet on God.
Her story is important because she is the perfect example of what it means to live the gospel. She trusts God so completely that nothing else matters. She gives without fear or worry, trusting instead on her faith. She gives God her all, believing and knowing God will do the same.
The second character, which is often overlooked or misrepresented, is the two small coins. Worth no more than a penny at best, they represent something more than money, or a tithe for the Temple. Like the widow, they represent a gospel of faith, and they teach us how to live out the gospel in a way that it bears witness to God’s love in the world.
It’s easy to see why ministers use story to get people to tithe to the church. Hey, ministers need to eat too. God’s law requires us all to give 10% of our income to support the welfare of the church. But the widow doesn’t give 10 percent or even 50. She gives 100 percent. She gives it all to God. Imagine the ministry that could be done if we gave 100 percent, and by that I don’t just mean the church.
The dollar value of these coins is nothing. Their real worth comes from the sacrifice they represent. Same can be said about us.
The Bible tells us that out of great love for the world, God gave us Jesus, who in turn gave his life, all of it, for you and me. His ego, his heart, his time, his blood, sweat, and tears – Jesus gave us his bios, his entire being, so we could be redeem and return to our rightful place as God’s beloved children.
Jesus gave up all that he had so that we can live fully and faithfully with and for God’s grace. This is hard to do, if you don’t trust God like this nameless widow.
Her trust in God is aligned with Jesus’ trust. And together their stories reveal the true cost of discipleship – the giving over of one’s self to God so completely and faithfully that there’s nothing left but the Divine image that has been imprinted each one of our hearts.
The giving of the self for God and others is central to Jesus’ vision of discipleship. By giving God everything, the good and bad, the worthy or unworthy, we let go of things that keep us from truly becoming one with Jesus – and with one another.
Hidden in this story is a reminder that the kingdom of heaven is not something we bet on, but something we are able to live right now if we just give it all over to God.
Mark doesn’t tell us how the widow’s story ends. We don’t know if the disciples took money out of their own purse to help her, or if she entered the temple for the last time, to offer her final prayer.
However, what we do know is this: She is a child of God. And like her, we are worth more to God than money or anything else we can imagine or put value on.
Her place in the world isn’t based on material wealth or status. It’s grounded in the faithfulness of God’s promise. She is able to take a leap of faith because she knows in her heart that God has a deep concern for the care and wellbeing of the widows and orphans, and the most vulnerable in our societies.
She’s also putting her trust in us, a faith community who desires to be like Jesus who taught, “Whoever wants to be first must be last, and must a servant of all.” In being a living example of God’s pure love, Jesus shows us the many ways we can give all we have to help and care for those who have nothing to give in return.
In the telling of her story, Mark reminds us that everything we have is God’s already. I can’t give God anything other than myself.
I can be present with God in all aspects of my life and be the offering God desires the most. And I can be here for God, without holding anything back for others.
I can do this because I trust and believe in my heart that God’s words are faithful and true.
God calls us to a gospel life: a life of love, grace, forgiveness and peace. A life where we can have it all, and a life we can give it all away for the sake of God’s kingdom.
As a beloved Child of an all-loving, ever faithful God, you are the gift.
My challenge to you this week is simple; Go out and be the gift of God’s sacrificial love; the gift that keeps on giving. Put your entire self into action – doing small things with great love.
For you never know who’s watching you do it.