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February 21, 2021

“Every Little Bit!”

(From Scripture Mark 12: 41-44)

 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.” (Mark 12: 41-44; NRSV).

     As the saying goes, “every little bit helps.”   We see this played out in hundreds of scenarios of our everyday lives.  For example, when we gather together to tidy up our church building or property, we sure do appreciate the contribution of all who participate toward our tidying goals, as we cross various planned tasks off of our list.  Now, I admit that it does help when Lois makes one of her quiches or breakfast bakes, but the point still holds—every little bit helps!

     Just as every little bit we do physically helps keep our church building and grounds in beautiful condition, everything we do together in mission makes a tangible difference for our world and for the kindom of God.  That includes our financial mission giving efforts which support local, regional, national and international helping agencies and organizations.  And there is no stronger validation for the importance of each and every individual’s contribution than that which is found in today’s Gospel Lesson from Mark Chapter 12—the story of “The Widow’s mite.”

     Unlike many of Jesus’ lessons to his Disciples and followers, which were taught in more abstract parable form, this lesson comes directly from an observation Jesus made while in the temple.  Jesus and his Disciples were sitting across from the treasury.  The treasury described in this text was in the form of chests, or containers, labeled for donations for various purposes that were located in the courtyard of the temple where Jesus had been teaching.  Jesus watched many people come to the treasury, and he saw them place large sums into the containers.  As he watched, a widow came to the treasury and placed two small coins, worth only about a penny, into a container.  Jesus knew the woman’s heart, her circumstances, and the size of her gift.  Calling his Disciples’ attention to her, Jesus said, “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.”

     As modern day Disciples of Christ Jesus, who walk in his light and strive to live according to his example, Jesus’ lessons are also meaningful and relevant teachings for us.  So, let us explore some ways that this story is impactful for us as a people of faith today.  The first, and perhaps most blatant discovery we find within this story is its irony.  The poor widow is putting her meager few coins into a treasury container in order to donate to one of the worthy purposes noted on its label.  Perhaps she was donating on behalf of other widows like herself.  The irony here is in the fact that she herself is a needy widow, for she has only 2 coins equal to a penny.  Yet, this faithful and faith-filled widow was not concerned about what she did not have, but about doing what she could do with what she had to give—and she gave it all!  She trusted God to meet her needs as she remained faithful and committed to giving in a sacrificial manner. Trusting God to meet our needs is a valuable life lesson for people of faith.

     The second lesson we can learn from this widow is found in her confident self-awareness.  Let me explain this lesson.  By this statement I mean that the woman was aware that she had what her society would consider only a “mite” to give.  Many people had far greater means and were giving great sums of money.  This did not embarrass or even appear to concern the woman.  She was not watching others and their giving; instead, she was focused simply on providing her own best gift.  To say she gave sacrificially would be a gross understatement, as the scripture informs us that she gave “everything she had, all she had to live on.”  Every little bit matters!

     Implied within this scripture is an important third lesson for us.  It is one that I believe is critical to our life together as the Church of Christ.  The widow believed that even her mite, her 2 small coins, made a difference.  She understood that she was a part of the greater temple, and that when everyone did their best, gave their best offering, the combined effort would create the greatest possible blessing.  This lesson is like one that Paul shared with the Corinthian Church when he told them, “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”  Everyone, working together, giving together, forms the body of Christ—and in the body—every little bit matters!

     Church, today is the first Sunday in the Season of Lent.  During Lent, people of faith enter into a time of self-discipline and self-discovery.  We reflect upon the life, ministry and teachings of Christ Jesus, and we seek to align our lives according to his example.  We prayerfully rely upon the Holy Spirit to guide us along this journey.  By following the historic spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, studying the Holy Scriptures, engaging in sacrificial acts of generosity, kindness and mercy, and gathering together in worship and praise we grow ever deeper in our personal faith, even as we build blessed community.  Our Easter becomes the joyous culmination of a season of growing in faith by God’s grace as we journey with Christ and one another.   And so, I invite you today on this journey of discovery and blessing.  It does not need to be, and likely will not be, a perfect journey.  Christ knows you and he loves you still.  There are no Joneses on this journey—it is just you and your Lord.  So, in the image of the faithful and faith-filled widow, step out and give your best; give all you can this Lenten Season.  It will be enough, for every little bit matters!  Amen,

     Since Lent is a time for sacrificial acts of kindness and mercy, and since COVID-19 precautions preclude us from in-person missions, we will be sharing some mission giving opportunities as “Mission Moments” throughout the weeks of Lent this year.  This week’s Mission giving opportunity is The Akron Emergency Overnight Shelter. Their need is for warm clothing like under-layer apparel, coats/jackets, mittens/gloves and hats.  We will have bins placed outside at the Kitchen entrance of the Church to collect items, or you may make a financial contribution to this agency. You may give financially toward this mission outreach need by earmarking your gift “Akron Emergency Shelter.”  There will also be other mission giving opportunities to agencies that we will be sharing, or you may wish to contribute simply to “Lent-general missions,” and we will divide these gifts and send some of the funds we receive to each need/agency.  May you be blessed this Lenten Season, even as you are a blessing to others.

“Take My Life”- Frances R. Havergal

Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days, let them flow in endless praise.                                                                 

Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing, always, only for my King.                                                                      

Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee.                                       

Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

***For more information about THE AKRON EMERGENCY OVERNIGHT SHELTER go to:  www.AkronEmergencyShelter.org