Out of Our Poverty
“For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44 ESV). Today at Today Jesus gives us an example of faith in the actions of a widow for the instruction of His saints both then and now. As we enter the close of the church year here at International Lutheran Church, we turn to God with thanks for all His blessings throughout this year as well as His guidance for the year to come. In just three short weeks we will begin the season of Advent and officially mark the start of our 60th anniversary celebration here at International Lutheran Church. In fact, the lesson given to the disciples that day serves as a call to us all in responding to our Lord in faith.
In the reading from Mark’s gospel for today, we see how Jesus was watching the money box together with His disciples. He noticed something amazing as well as something worthy of our consideration that was probably missed by all. As many people dropped large amounts of money into the offering box, they also witnessed a poor widow with only two mites to her name put in all that she had to live on into God’s temple. One might look at this and think that it was only a little fraction of what the others gave. But in fact, Jesus notes how her gift was more than all the rest because as He explained she gave not out of her abundance but out of her poverty.
There are several ways for us to look at this. The first way is to see how our lives and offerings are a witness to others. What we do is seen by others. It can be a distraction from God’s grace or clearly point the way. We can, like the widow, in our dependence on God inspire others to depend solely on Him. How we live and share our material blessings that God has graciously given to us with those right around us is an amazing opportunity to tell His story. The second way to look at this is to see this “witness” as an example of what Christ does as He offers Himself completely to the Father’s will. Just as she put everything into the temple “treasury,” Jesus put everything into that “Eternal Treasury” from which we all benefit. He gave His all that we would be blessed beyond all measure and that our coffers would be overflowing with God’s grace and mercy. Not only this but we share in this ministry of reconciliation with Him, this ministry of forgiveness, grace and mercy, not out of power or influence but only out of our poverty. Yes, we are meager “beggars” and yet in our poverty we are His very vessels of charity and grace. In giving Himself completely to God on our behalf, you and I have been made precious instruments ourselves completely dedicated to Him. Today again we are challenged to turn away from the praise of those around us and invited to serve our neighbor in love through faith.
During our 60th Anniversary, we will have many opportunities to share favorite memories as well as pray for God’s guidance in leading in our ministry here at International Lutheran Church for the next 60 years. One aspect to our celebration will also be a special financial campaign that will give us an opportunity to show our thanks to God. With the funds raised we will be making improvements to our facilities as well as expanding our current ministries and exploring new opportunities in our community. We hope to raise an additional 22 million won in this year 2022 above and beyond our normal budget for ILC. As we celebrate what God has done for us, we also are committed to sending 22% of what is raised to supporting ministries beyond our own congregation. One of these has already begun through our support of the resettlement ministry of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS.org) and the Afghan refugee families they are working with. Another is our participation in the “Operation Christmas Child” by Samaritan’s Purse. Please check out the booths in the Fellowship Hall in the coming weeks to support both of these opportunities. These are just some of the many ways in which our faith will be witnessed by others in the coming year.
We want to celebrate this special time together not only by remembering what God has done in the past but also by seeking His guidance in what He is calling us to right now. Yes, He who gave all He had invites us to live in Him through a life of active trust in Him with all we have.