These are busy days at Trinity. As I write this, Little Sonbeams Christian Preschool is celebrating Thanksgiving Feast Week. What a great opportunity to hang out with our preschool kids and their families…giving thanks for one another and for whatever else comes to mind! Then, this Sunday we take a moment to remember how God has made us stewards over all that we have (time, abilities, material possessions) and to pledge a portion of that for carrying out God’s mission together. Later that same evening, we welcome our WARM guests and settle in for a week of meals together, conversation with new friends, and opportunities for service. We are all people who love to be noticed for our busy-ness and generosity, but that, of course, is not what this is about. Our text this week reminds us that even when we appear to be at the very limits of what we are able to give (like the impoverished widow of our text), Jesus sees and cares for us. Our God of abundant grace and mercy supplies our need. That also means that we are empowered to serve (and are privileged to be served by) one another, because it isn’t really us at all, but Jesus who is working in and among us.
The text for today is probably a familiar one: an impoverished widow enters the temple to give an offering. Her action is almost invisible. She drops (not one, but) two quadrans, the smallest coin available anywhere the Roman empire, into the temple treasury as an offering. She is almost invisible…but not quite. One person notices her action: Jesus! “Truly I say to you,” Jesus says, pointing her out to His disciples, “this impoverished widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” What I noticed about this text as I read it again this year was its context: we find it in a section of Scripture where Jesus denounces the preoccupation with money He finds in the temple, which He calls “a den of robbers” (11:17); we see it immediately after a section of Jesus’ teaching where He warns His listeners of religious leaders who “devour widows’ houses” (12:40). It would therefore seem that the impoverished widow, though her faithfulness causes her to stand out in Jesus’ eyes, is also a victim. Jesus is in the midst of reforming and replacing the temple, where He sees this impoverished woman. His body will become the perfect offering for her sins and for the sins of the institution that oppresses her. Through Him, the gift of heaven itself would be won for the world. Earthly institutions would continue to err, but because of Jesus a whole new community…one where even “invisible” offerings would be celebrated by the Lord who sees what is done in secret and cares for His people…would be born.
Just last week I met a woman who had once been homeless and suffering from an addiction to drugs but is now in recovery and offering herself as a coach to those who are trying to overcome the circumstances she once found herself in. She is longing to share Jesus with them, too. I don’t know whether or not her actions are being seen by others, but they are seen by her loving Savior! So are yours, even when they seem “invisible” to everybody else.
Let’s draw on the abundant grace of our loving Savior this week as we serve one another. May all we do…whether visible or invisible to others…be an offering of love received by the God who sees what we do, and because of Jesus, delights in us.