Out of her poverty,
The older gentleman walked the rails to trails path with a cane.
The night before had been a blustery one, and many stick littered the path.
At each step, he knocked a stick out of the way, preventing others from tripping and twisting an ankle. “I might as well do something with this cane besides just lean on it,” he said to passersby. Claire gritted her teeth in her seat on the airplane.
It had been a taxing week with her sick mother, and now on this two hour flight home
She was positioned next to a couple with a screaming baby. “I can’t take it,” she thought. “I’ll wait until everyone is on the plane, she thought, and then I will take an open seat.” In the comfort of that thought, the woman closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
The image that came to her in that moment was of her own child having a tantrum,
crying until the energy was spent. She opened her eyes and said to the mother, “Would you like me to hold your baby while you get settled?” The mom gratefully handed the child over, who, startled to be passed off, stopped crying. And miraculously, the baby gave a deep shuttering breath, and fell asleep, exhausted.
Frank filled out an intention of giving card for the first time. He was on a fixed income, and anticipated surgery which would not be fully covered by insurance. But he had figured out a way to make a commitment, and was excited to participate. In fact, this was the first church Frank had ever truly felt a part of; It had become his family. And he wanted to contribute. So he filled out his card for $2 a week. When I saw it, I knew that it was a gift from the heart, and that it was a big one. All of these people fit the slogan, “Give it all you got.”
Each one was in a situation of some kind of poverty: impaired mobility, emotional exhaustion, financial limitations. Each one assessed their situation, made the best of it, and contributed to others. They fit this morning, because the widow in our Gospel lesson does the same thing. Widows in first century Palestine were a vulnerable group.
Women depended upon men for their livelihood in that culture, and widows often had to resort to begging or worse. Sometimes widows fell prey to unscrupulous religious leaders, who convinced them to sell their assets and give their money to the temple.
In our Gospel today, Jesus sees a widow from afar, putting in two copper coins into the temple treasury. It was her offering, and Jesus knew it was a sacrifice.
“This woman has put in more than all those who are contributing 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.”
Giving out of your poverty. Give it all you got. Sounds like you could almost say, Give til it hurts. Like sacrifice is meant to be strenuous and painful, A duty rather than a delight.
But as I have observed giving from one’s poverty is exactly the opposite. In those moments of feeling like you don’t have enough, that you can’t be enough, To give what you have and find that it makes a difference for someone else—Well, honestly, that’s a miracle. That’s the miracle of the guy with the cane, with Claire and the baby, and with Frank and his two bucks. Each one had a poverty of one sort or another: physical, emotional, financial; And yet they summoned joy where there might have only been frustration or defeat.
The story of the widow points to the truth that God’s economy doesn’t work like we think it does— Instead of resources being limited, so that when we give, we have less,
The God’s economy functions on moving resources around, And in moving them around, abundance is created. In sharing, we find we have not less, but more to enjoy.
Perhaps this is why Jesus lifted up this widow, who would have otherwise been invisible to the disciples.
Jesus wanted his disciples to know that whenever they felt they have nothing left,
When they felt defeated and alone, That they could offer up even their poverty
And that God would make something of that, too. Jesus wanted his followers to know that whatever we give over to God as an offering Be it meager or mighty, that Jesus sees it for what it is, a gift from the heart.
This week here at SM we saw a gift from the heart. 8 women of our church created a quilt in honor of veterans, and this week, they presented it a local veteran named Dustin. Dustin served in Afghanistan in special operations. He jumped out of airplanes and served with honor, and upon coming home he enrolled at Tunxis community college and won three scholarships. He also volunteers at the OASIS, a support center for the 150 veterans enrolled at the college Dustin helps veterans with the same issues he encounters in transitioning to civilian life The loneliness being apart from such a tight community, the disconnect between the realities of combat and the routines of life at home, and coping with trauma and a loss of purpose in life. In listening to and helping others, Dustin says he is helping himself.
And here at St. Matthew, an event we weren’t even sure if we could get off the ground, the quilting day itself, has grown into a gift that reminds Dustin and other veterans that they are appreciated That their service matters And that the community stands behind them. Out of our poverty, we too are learning we have something to share.
Each of us here today has a daily opportunity to give of what we have to others and therefore to God. Perhaps you feel strong and ready to give Or perhaps you feel tapped out, unworthy, or forgotten. Whatever your spiritual, emotional, physical or financial state, make an offering of yourself.
It is all God really wants—God wants you, the real you, the entire you. It’s OK to give out of your poverty, as well as your abundance. Whatever you give, God will bless it.
And God will bless you in your giving.