The Widow’s Offering

By Pastor Wes Poole

Mark 12:41-44

41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 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. 44 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.”

Let’s ponder for a moment this image; Jesus, sitting opposite the place where the offerings were put, observing the people make their donations as they come into the temple. He is not alone. Seated with him are the leaders—the Sadducees. It is startling to think of Jesus sitting with those whom he had scorned for their hypocrisy. Remember that as they watch there is no paper money, so all of the offerings make a terrible noise as they roll down this long horn shaped object and fall into the pool of coins. And here comes this little old lady. She has two small coins worth practically nothing and drops them in. They barely make a noise. You can almost see the Temple leaders as they roll their eyes and hope for better results with the next person who walks in the door. Jesus then calls his Disciples over and says, “This poor widow has put more in to the treasury than all the others.” To the Sadducees this woman is a waste of time, but to Jesus she is the stuff by which Kingdoms are erected. Thus, at its heart, the story of the widow’s mite is a strong reminder to the kingdoms of this world that money and power are not everything, they are not ends in themselves and they do not make you greater, wiser, or set you above anyone else.

I selected this passage this week not because I wanted to make a point about money and possessions. We can talk about that some other time. It spoke to me as I was reflecting on how little it seems we can do right now. Movement is restricted. Travel is curtailed. Shopping for groceries has specific rules for safety. Finances are, admittedly, tight for some. Many of us aren’t comfortable going out of our houses at all, and even if we want to, some of us can’t go to work. So it’s stressful, that’s a given. When we find ourselves hemmed in and our options limited, fear, panic, and anger can take hold. At these times, the widow in the above story can teach us again about the value of little things. Jesus said her two small coins were more valuable by far than the large amounts put into the coffer by richer and more privileged people.

Perhaps during a time of crisis like we’re facing now, when we may feel so powerless, we can start to re-appreciate the value of small things. A simple prayer, lifted up to God from the heart. A walk outside in the sunshine. A meal cobbled together from whatever we could find in the fridge, but shared with loved ones. A good book. A song that lifts our spirits. These are our real valuables! Of course, it doesn’t stop there. The smallest act of kindness or generosity is wonderful any time, but it is utterly priceless right now! Remember, we are never alone and we never act alone. God takes our offerings, both the great and the meager, and multiplies them over and over. Like everything else in this life, dark times will eventually give way to the light. No earthly difficulty will last forever. For now, let’s cling to the hope we all share in Christ Jesus, and savor the small things that we have and can do.

Let us pray…
Lord Jesus, you have showed us that God values even the smallest acts of kindness we can manage, and has blessed us in a myriad different ways, both small and great. Give us the peace, the patience, and the clarity of thought to regard and give great thanks for these “small” blessings. You will always be with us; leading us through the storms of life. Help us to be more like you, mindful even of the smallest good we can do in the world, and in the lives of our sisters and brothers everywhere. We pray this in your most holy name. Amen.

As always, my friends, be well, be kind, and be safe. I look forward to seeing you all again in person!

Pastor Wes †