24th Sunday after Pentecost (B)
1 Kings 17:8-16; Heb 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44
Greetings from the Office of the Bishop, Rocky Mountain Synod, ELCA. I need, first of all, to express appreciation for the partnership we share, not only with the other 164 congregations of the RMS and the more than 10,000 other congregations of the ELCA, but additionally for the special witness you bring regarding service and caring in the Albuquerque area. You are a church that gives back because you understand how richly you have been blessed.
Innumerable hours of service. Malaria Project, ELCA Good Gifts, School supplies, Christmas gifts and food for students and families, Christmas gift cards for children in need, Luther House, The Storehouse (including thousands of dollars’ worth of quilts), World Hunger, and the list goes on.
You are an example of God’s grace made real in Albuquerque. I hope you will consider teaching the rest of the church that level of service and commitment.
And thank you for the mission support you provide to our partners in the Rocky Mountain Synod and in the ELCA. By your generosity still more people are able to be fed, housed, treated, comforted, educated, and have good news proclaimed to them. You are a reminder than none of us are in this alone. We share this ministry, led by the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus.
Take a minute and finish this sentence to yourself:
“I don’t have enough ___.”
- The widow at Zarephath would answer, “meal and oil for bread.”
- The widow in the gospel would answer, “money to live on.”
- Others might answer, “friends, time, energy, prayer life, compassion.”
- Mitt Romney would answer, “votes.”
- My 84-old-mother would answer, “memory.”
- My friends whose son just committed suicide this week would answer, “tears.”
What would you answer for yourself? How would you answer for Holy Cross?
Where you don’t have enough, that’s where you’re poor. It’s right there, in that answer, that Jesus meets you, walks with you, and calls you. It’s in those areas, where we don’t have enough, that we are most likely to actually trust God.
Trusting God sounds good, like something we Christians do. Let’s be honest. I don’t know about you, but I’d really rather not have to trust God—at least not for important things. I’m fine trusting God for a good parking space at the grocery store or that I’ll have enough left on my Starbuck’s card for one more latte. But I’m not always comfortable when I have to trust God because of something I can’t do; when my best efforts aren’t enough; when no matter how hard I try, it just isn’t good enough.
The truth is, I’d really rather trust myself. I want to know that I have enough money and supplies and people and knowledge to take care of what I need to do. When I have enough, I’m very good about giving from my abundance. Unfortunately, that’s just like the scribes, who Jesus says, “receive the greater condemnation.” Ouch.
I want God to give me all I need. I want God to show me up front that I’ll have more than enough. Give it to me first, God, then I’ll trust you. Give me more oil and meal, then I’ll make bread for Elijah. Give me more than enough to live on, then I’ll put money into the temple treasury. Give it all to me, God, then I’ll accept your invitation into your mission, your work in the world. Give it all to me, God. Take care of me. Then we’ll worry about everyone else.
That’s what I want. Or is that just me…?
Here’s what these texts seem to be about. That God is generous, gracious, caring, merciful, compassionate. That with God, there’s always more than enough because God is serious about God’s mission of care and redemption in the world. We are invited in to participate. That’s who we are. We aren’t defined by what we have, we’re defined by God’s invitation.
Our call isn’t to make sure we have enough resources on our own so that we can be completely self-reliant and continue trusting ourselves. Our call is to be part of God’s work in the world. That’s our identity. That’s why we are baptized. That’s why we are disciples of Jesus Christ: to be part of God’s mission in the world.
When you can’t be what God calls you to be, when you don’t have the resources, God comes to you in grace and forgiveness. So of course Jesus meets you where you are poor. Of course Jesus walks with you in those places where you don’t have enough. Of course from there Jesus invites you into his mission in the world ; not because you have the resources to do it all, but because God does. Jesus calls you from the very place where you know your best efforts aren’t enough. Because that’s where you actually are living in the middle of God’s grace and mercy. Because God always has enough.
How did you fill in the blank, “I don’t have enough _____”? Wherever you don’t have enough is right where our gracious God is meeting you right now. That’s right where Jesus is in your life. It’s where he is in the life of Holy Cross Lutheran Church.
“The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail.” Jesus says, “but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
May God’s grace overflow in us; may we meet Jesus in our poverty.