Read St. Mark 9:41-44
Many churches heard these verses read as part of the Gospel reading yesterday. This text is a favorite among many for their stewardship Sunday’s as it is one of the few texts that we have in which Jesus speaks about giving financially toward the support of the Church and its mission.
The great irony of the text is that while Jesus commends the widow for her offering of two coins totaling a penny as she did not give out of her abundance but rather she gave all she had; many others, who are watching her giving, are probably wishing that she had not given at all.
For a couple of years, I assisted with the counting of the Sunday morning offering at the church where I grew up; and I can recall many a Sunday where the offering would include small change of quarters and dimes and nickels and even pennies. That change was the worst to count, so much so that many Sunday’s someone would just toss a dollar or two in out of their own pocket, (always rounding up, never down) and take the change themselves to make the effort of counting the offering easier.
Of course, on the other end of the spectrum were those who gave to every imaginable fund so that a receipt had to be written out for each one.
Oh how easy it was when the envelope simply said ‘Home Offering’; regardless of whether it was cash or check. The money could simply be piled up and counted and sent off to the bank.
And in that respect, Jesus is speaking against more than just those who look down on those who can only afford to give very little while others give so much.
The money placed in the offering plate, no matter where that money is designated to go, is given in faith, with the good will of the giver as its very source. That small change is given by a child who desperately wants to take part in the Sunday morning offering, thus teaching that child the importance of supporting the work of the Church. Those few dollars given each week toward World Hunger or the Building Fund or some other fund that others have long forgotten is all given because someone in the congregation believes that the work of the Church needs to be carried out in that particular outpost, no matter how remote, no matter how discouraging the work may be.
Everyone’s offering is important, because that offering is given in faith that the Word of the Lord is continuously being sent out into the world.
That widow in St. Mark 12 is giving her offering so that the work of the Church may continue to prosper. She may not give much, but her offering is given in faith; and that is enough to make her offering a top priority for those who count the offering and those who distribute the offering.
Each offering, no matter how great and no matter how small should be treated with care, for it is not given carelessly, it is given with the hope that someone, whether they be near or far, will hear the Gospel because of it.