Day 265 "A Definitive Sign" Mark 12:35 - 13:37
September 22, 2021, 8:00 AM

Day 265 “A Definitive Sign” Mark 12: 35 – 13:37                                      


Blog for Day 265 (100 more to go!!) Mark 12:35 - 13:37 This tiny bit of metal is the widow's mite.                  
Sometimes that's all the faith we have, isn't it? Just a shred of a piece of our hearts.
Tiny, and yet mighty (get it? Mite? Mighty? Pretty sure that connection has been made before.)

In our small community of Johnstown, we have experienced a terrible loss in the past week. A young woman was killed in a car accident early in the morning as she drove home. While I did not know her, it seems like everyone else did, including lots of our young people since the young woman was a recent graduate from the local high school. When a tragic loss occurs, anger, fear, confusion and of course, sadness, rule the day. This is when teenagers have to wrestle with mortality, faith and eternity, and it’s so hard for them. It is usually easier to believe that our loved one is in God’s gracious keeping when our aging parent or grandparent, who has lived a long life, is near death. The loss of a young person creates confusion and questioning, and many of us do not know how to answer the questions asked by those who remain behind. Even the parents of such a promising young person grieve with yawning chasms in their understanding, and their faith.

So, to be honest (as always), it is hard to read verses that tell us about awful occurrences-- nations will go to war with other nations, persecution will be rampant and false prophets will try to lead us astray. We want to have confidence, especially when we have lost someone we love, that God is going to be clear about the end times, as they are called. The end times are the days when Jesus is supposed to return to earth in order to finally right all the wrongs, to gather the faithful departed, and to bring those with profess his name to eternity with him. Not to get too technical here, but the reality is that ‘here’, as in planet Earth, will be renewed and recreated as the New Earth, a brand new Eden that will be perfect.

In any case, we do not know the day or the time, and that is hard for us, and it is hard for those who grieve. But it allows for the genuine profession of faith throughout our lifetime, a chosen connection to God and Jesus that is not born out of fear or threat.

The widow with her mites exhibited this sort of faith. Those of us with greater wealth think to ourselves “Well, she shouldn’t be giving away everything! That is just pure stupidity!” Actually, as Jesus points out, it is pure faith. She trusts that God is going to provide for her, and possibly for her family, for that day and all days. She can give what she has because her heart is in the right place. She is being extravagantly generous, to the point of potentially causing personal suffering. Many of us might also think “Well, why is she giving it to the Temple/Church? Aren’t there better charities?” Her faith tradition, and ours, supports tithing which means that we give our first fruits, our best fruits (the work of our hands) to God. Often that is through the Temple or the church. We give back to God a portion of what God has given us. This widow exhibits a radical faith because she is giving everything she has to the glory of God. She does it without fanfare. She does it without being noticed by anyone but Jesus.

Her heart is ready for God’s work to be done. Her heart is oriented towards the kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of humanity. True story—I met a woman named Mary who was in her late 70’s and she loved her church and she loved Jesus. She was also wealthy. When we were talking about church one day, she told me that she tithed 50% of her wealth to the church! She had no pride in what she said. In fact, I think she was trying to teach me a lesson about God’s providence so that I would trust God with more of my life as well. I have never, and will never forget that.

This really is not supposed to be about stewardship or tithing. It’s about the gap between what we know and what we don’t. The gap between the living Jesus we read about in our scriptures, and the day when Jesus returns. The experiences of those things we lose here on earth, and our faith in what is to come. What I hear today is that Jesus has made promises that I can trust, but I don’t know when they will be fulfilled. And when people die, like the young woman in Johnstown, or my own son or your relatives that your heart mourns, we want the promise fulfilled today, now. We want to be with our loved ones now. We don’t want to wait or take another breath. We want to know we can trust God. We really do want to know that it will be all right in the end.

But for now, in the midst of days so full of grief that they can feel like the end of days, like the end of time itself, we are called to persevere, to have faith in what we cannot yet see, but which we know in our hearts, our minds and our spirits, even with the littlest mites of ourselves that we entrust to God, a spiritual tithe that can grow into deeper trust and love. We are all of us widows in some way, and called to give of what we have, even on those days when we think we have nothing left.

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,