And then Jesus said,
"Truly I tell you this poor widow has put in more than all of them;
for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she, out
of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.
Jesus watched, perhaps not unlike many of us
today; as an observer, from the sidelines. And it was time to take up
the collection; time to put your money where your mouth was, in terms
of the Temple monies. As he watched, people of means came and put their
gifts into the treasury. Did He smile as they passed by the collection
box? Then He noticed this old woman drop a couple of quarters - perhaps
more than half of what she had to spend on food - into the box.
Many people often criticize Jesus here. I've heard it and you may have
also. The natural direction of the criticism leans toward the church putting
the burden on poor people. Many of us would use the argument of not sacrificing
because we are ones who give.
We who give of ourselves voluntarily, today, in most any capacity, usually
get accused of being a "martyr." Giving our life to God seems to be some
warped psychological phenomena. My view is that my life somehow got lost
when I tried to get away from what God made me to be.
I think that in regard to this biblical scripture in Luke, we push Jesus
a little. I know, when you have a lot it's easy to give a little. I do
that rather well myself. It's easy for me, walking down the street to
give a coin to a person.
But can I call that giving in abundance? That coin didn't get dropped
because of love for the person. It happened because it eased guilt. I
can walk away, just as those rich people at the treasury in Jesus' story,
feeling good about myself.
But it's not abundance. That's more selfishness in my heart. It's when
I have a dollar and I know that in giving it away, I will be blessed.
The abundance to which we are truly called is an abundance of Spirit.
It is a generosity of spirit that reaches down and gives from the joy
God has given us.
God loves us unconditionally. So giving and knowing Gods' love is not
connected. But true giving comes out a heart that overflows with joy and
with all the possibilities that come from sharing the wonderful love of
God with all people.
We should be getting ready for a new time, for new life and a new awesome
This is important. It is important because we need to concentrate on
our community outside the walls of the church. We need to push outside
of our walls and outside ourselves. In doing this, we will more easily
meet our faithful obligations to the ministry of the whole church. When
we do this, we can take our God inspired place in the community of humankind.
Giving in grace and love to our individual efforts in our community we
give out of faith, out of abundant and expansive hearts.
Everywhere there is an outpouring of hope and love, everywhere are expressions
of faith and ministry. Commitments come, not even from a sense of obligation,
but because we know that God gave us talents and gifts that are meant
to be shared with all peoples.
Our challenge is to recognize those talents and gifts and learn how
to share the best way possible. The spirit of God works in many ways.
People we see each day may be that spirit working for you. The Godly spirit
within is understandable and reachable if we but listen to that still
small voice of love.
My prayers are that giving of our gifts and talents feed our ministry
because it is given in love by abundant hearts. It will be fed by our
overflowing love and joy. And it will be realized by our unshakable conviction
that God's love is being made visible at this time and in this place.
God has given us each an assignment. Some of us may recognize that and
follow what we are called to do. Some may stray away for a time but then
some person or some thing comes along and turns us around and heads us
in the direction for which we were intended to follow. We then can recognize
that calling once again through our visibility of giving and loving. It
is there in blankets given for the homeless. It is given in time to teach
and care for our children and youth. We hear and see it when we sing and
celebrate in worship. It is there as we move into new ministries for men,
women, and children and with all people here in this place, this world,
Growing in giving of ourselves lets each of us grow from love in our
hearts. It comes from what God has put on the table for us. Let us grow
in giving, knowing that we come to worship, to serve and to relationships
with people offering all our gifts, talents and skills for the building
of God's community in completion of our assignment.
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