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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Stewardship: The Widow's Mite

I wonder how many of us think that we have a lot to give to God. My guess is that most of us actually think we have very little we can give to God.

We may think that we have nothing special in terms of our talents. We may think that we have little the way of time because of the many pressures that we face in life. We may think that we have little spare cash because of the significant costs of living. As a result, we often think we have very little to offer and may hold back from offering at all as result.

This is a particular issue when it comes to the suffering and distress that we see on our TV screens around the world, whether through conflict or lack of resources and relief. Global issues seem so huge that the contribution we could make pales into insignificance and we think there is no point doing anything ourselves as our contribution will simply be a drop in an ocean.

It is easy for us to think that big is best and that what we have and are is too little to make an impact but today’s Gospel reading says otherwise (Luke 21. 1 – 4). Jesus sees and values the contribution which the widow makes. Everyone else gave from their surplus wealth, but the widow, from her poverty, contributed all she had, her whole livelihood. So Jesus uses her example as a challenge to the wealthy and well resourced who often give less proportionately while the less well off give more of what they have.

A New York Times Magazine article in 2010 highlighted the myth of philanthropy and the “benefits to the poor” of having the super wealthy. 'What this well-researched article revealed was that the super wealthy, the wealthy and ostentatious “scribes” of today, actually give less than those who have middle and lower incomes. Most absurdly, what Jesus observed in his day remains true today — those with the least continue to give more, by percentage of their resources, than the wealthy!' So this is a message that needs to be heard in these times of austerity where budget cuts are often focused on the poor rather than the wealthy.

Small is beautiful, as E. F. Schumacher reminded us, and as the images we have been viewing this morning state, our small actions or contribution, combined with those of others, can then have a big effect. The butterfly effect which is found in Chaos Theory and the multiplier effect in economics both show, on the basis of research, that small changes and small contributions can have significant effects.

Stewardship month is an annual reminder to us that that is so when it comes to the contribution we make as Christian disciples; when it comes to the money we give back to God, the talents we use in his service, the community contribution we make and the environmentally-friendly actions we take.

Jesus valued the Widow's mite and took the small meal that one child offered using it to feed more than 5,000 people (Matthew 14. 13 - 21). Rev. Conwell took Hattie May’s 57 cents and used in to build a church, a University and a Hospital. We need the contribution that you can make to St John's, however small it may seem to you, and in whatever way you can make that contribution. The mission and ministry of this church is the combined effect of the contributions that each of us make. St John’s needs you, now more than ever. God has given you resources, time and talents, this Stewardship Month I encourage you to reflect prayerfully on all that you can and do give back to him in order that together we can combine our individual offerings to make a bigger impact for him.


Supertramp - Give A Little Bit.

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