One of the speakers at the Rural and Small Town Ministry conference I attended was Rev. Timothy Koch, a fierce advocate for ministry to these “places no one wants to go to,” where the first thought about new pastors is “how long is he going to stay?” Anyway, he gave a sermon on the Scripture reading for this Sunday, Mark 12:41-44, about the widow who gave “everything she had,” two coins that added up to a penny, into the Temple treasury.
Rev. Koch pointed to the very next passage in Mark, in which Jesus foretells the destruction of the Temple. “There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Mark 13: 2). Indeed, in 37 years, the Romans would destroy Jerusalem and raze the Temple to the ground.
So this poor widow “gave everything she had” to the Temple, and yet–as Jesus Himself immediately warns–in 37 years the Temple would cease to exist.
What a bad investment! It would be like sinking all of your savings into a business that then goes bankrupt. Or like a pastor pouring himself into serving a congregation that then has to close down. What futility. What a waste.
And yet, Jesus commends the widow. Poor as she is, she has given more than the rich. Jesus praises this poverty-stricken, bereft woman, while saying “Beware” of the respected and status-hungry scribes (Mark 12:38-40).
She acts out of her faith. She trusts God to take care of her. So she serves Him by giving to the Temple for its ministry. Her actions are not futile. Jesus praises her.
Rev. Koch asked, “How many of our churches will be around in 37 years?” But that doesn’t matter. We serve today. We give today. The future is in God’s hands, but what He asks is for us to be faithful now.
Rev. Koch also pointed out that the Church–the bride of Christ–is a widow. Our Husband has died. And yet, we are the only widows whose Husband is also alive. We only have a little to give. But we, out of our poverty put in everything we have, all we have to live on (Mark 12: 44). And all we have to live on is the love of God.
Illustration: “The Poor Widow Gives Money to the Treasure of the Temple” by J-M. Delatre (1794) after W. Artaud [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons