You’ll remember the story of the widow’s mite? Jesus contrasts the influential powerbrokers who make a big deal about their contributions to the temple with a woman of no-means silently contributes all she has to the cause.
The first time I preached this story, I had a field day with the puns: She was poor, but “mite-y”? She had a way of putting in her two cents? When the widow shows her “mite” the wicked… flea?
I think it was in the preaching of this sermon that I learned that not everyone appreciated a good pun, and that most of the good puns had already been told. Multiple times.
The sharing of this story from the pulpit often focuses on themes of individual values, sacrifice, and stewardship. If we read it in the larger context of Mark’s gospel the contrast isn’t just about the faithfulness of the widow, but also about the corruption of temple leadership who despite having plenty of money were taxing the poor.
Church… are we listening?
Although I’m confident that our churches are not taxing the poor to amass funds so leadership can have fancy robes and cars… there are times when congregations spend more on the upkeep of buildings than on mission. Sometimes the building is used in such a way that that sort of expenditure makes sense, but there are times when the building itself becomes the mission of the church. Due to dwindling financial resources we find ourselves diverting funds from the care of those in need to stoking a furnace.
What follows the story of the widow’s offering in Mark’s gospel is telling: “As he walked away from the Temple, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at that stonework! Those buildings!”
Jesus said, “You’re impressed by this grandiose architecture? There’s not a stone in the whole works that is not going to end up in a heap of rubble.” (Mark 13)
Church… it’s often in the more uncomfortable questions that we find our vocation. The good news is, as difficult as these conversations are, there are those who are willing to be partners in discerning how we might faithfully respond. The Presbyterian Foundation continues to help in this regard, and I’m also available to meet with church leadership and to begin this conversation.
Prayers for us all as we figure out where God is calling us to be the church!