Pentecost +24b – Sunday 11th November 2012
Mark 12: 38-44
My thoughts this week will be shaped by my preparation for Remembrance Sunday. For a number of years now I have put together a multi-media presentation as part of the focus of remembering. Before the observance of two minutes silence at 11am on Sunday the courage of some of the young men who ‘gave their all’ is highlighted.
Greenacres Congregational Church lost 22 of its young men in the First World War, and 7 in the Second World War, and more than 100 others served the British Armed Forces in both conflicts. I have been trying to discover the stories of those young men and to retell it to our generation so that their sacrifice is not forgotten. There is the danger that they will become little more than names and faces … but nigh on 100 years ago they were the heart and soul of our local community. The Church Meeting Minutes from 1910 to 1916 contain some of their names as they were elected to various positions in the life of the church. More were mentioned as members of the Recreation Club, filling their days by playing tennis, cricket, football and snooker at Church. Gradually their names were replaced with Minutes of condolence to the family.
They gave their all.
Quite appropriate then that our reading for this Sunday ends with the words: “…she gave her all”.
Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” (The Message)
The widow’s mite. A reading not just about stewardship, but about the very essence of our faith – generosity. This is kingdom life. Sharing something of the riches we have been given. Sharing something of the faith we have been given. Sharing something of the gifts we have been given. Generosity.
I feel very envious of the widow who gave her all, do you? And not just envious, but also perhaps shame. She gave her all. How often do we hold back a little something … or maybe even a big something? How often are our hearts not fully in it? How often is our service half hearted … or as the church at Laodicea discovered … how often is our service lukewarm?
But let’s not beat ourselves up too much here. Whilst a little bit of guilt is a healthy thing, it needs to lead to response and action. There is the opportunity for us to redeem ourselves, to be transformed, to give extravagantly. I hope my service this week will be extravagant. I hope my example this week will be extravagant. I hope my worship this week will be extravagant. I hope my love will be extravagant.
After all, my inspiration comes from 22 young men from Greenacres Congregational Church who lived extravagantly … who gave their all.