It is getting close to Christmas already. If you look in the stores you would think that Christmas was happening next week. One of the major things that happen on Christmas is the exchanging of gifts. How many of you like to receive presents? Are they better if they are big or small, wrapped fancy or in a brown bag? I have to admit, I love to get presents. It’s that little kid in me I guess. I am not picky either, big or small but I do like them wrapped in holiday appropriate gift wrap. I also like to give presents and wrap the presents I have to give for they should be in holiday appropriate gift wrap you know. Giving is as important to me as getting. Getting the gifts tells me that someone likes me enough to think about, and then buy the gift for me. Giving the gifts gives me a way to show the person I bought the gift for and then wrapped it that I care about them.
So why all the talk about presents? Part of the scripture that I read this morning was about Jesus watching the people put their offerings in the plate. He saw rich people in their fine robes walking up and putting in a lot of money. I imagine they probably also looked around to see who was there to see them make their large contributions. Then Jesus watched as a poor widow come by and put in the offering plate two small copper coins, not even worth a penny. I imagine she didn’t look around to see who was there watching her make her contribution. But Jesus saw her.
Jesus tells his disciples that the two coins that the widow put in the offering plate were worth more than all the money that the rich people gave. Why, because they gave out of their wealth and used giving as a way to flaunt what they had and also themselves. The widow gave all that she had to live on. She gave out of her desire to share what she had no matter how small. I also think she gave having the faith to know that even though she gave all she had, she would be taken care of and that what she needed would be provided.
The widow gave with her heart, I am not sure that the rich people in the scripture did the same.
I don’t think this is a way to slam or knock down people who are rich. It is just a way to say that when one gives it should be given from one’s heart and it doesn’t matter how big or small the gift is. As long as the person is giving because it is what their heart is telling them to do, then the gift is a good gift.
I found a good children’s message to go with the scripture from Mark. First it says that we take an offering every Sunday. Then it asks if you think Jesus is interested in how much money we put in the offering plate. Do you think he is interested in how much money each of us puts in the offering plate? Depends on how we are giving it, I think.
It goes on to say that Jesus is more interested in what is in the heart of the giver than he is in the size of their gift.
In this small coin purse, there is some money. Let’s see how much is in the purse. 57 cents. That really isn’t much money is it? I would like to tell you a story about a little girl name Hattie and how her gift of 57 cents helped to build a great church.
One Sunday morning, the pastor of a church went outside to find a group of children who were unable to get in to go to Sunday School because the building was too crowded. One of those children was a six year-old named Hattie. When the pastor saw her, he lifted her up in his arms, put her up on his shoulder, and carried her into the church where he found a place for her to sit in the Sunday School class.
The next morning as he walked to church, the pastor saw Hattie again and stopped to talk to her. He told her that he hoped that some day the church would be able to build a building that was large enough so that there would be room for all the children who wanted to attend.
Two years later, little Hattie died and the pastor was asked to preach the funeral service. After the service, Hattie’s mother handed the pastor a small purse containing fifty-seven cents. She told him that Hattie had been saving her pennies to help the church build a new Sunday School building. The pastor took the fifty-seven cents back to his church and told the people about the little girl who had been saving her pennies to help them build a new Sunday School building. The people were so inspired by Hattie’s gift that they gave faithfully until they built a wonderful new building with plenty of room for all of the children who wanted to attend.
I am sure that Jesus would say that Hattie gave more than anyone to build this great church. She gave all that she had.
Note: The story of Hattie Wiatt is taken from a sermon by Russell H. Conwell which he delivered December 1, 1912.
During this time of stewardship for our church, I think we need to remember the story of the widow and of the little girl, Hattie. It doesn’t matter how much we give as long as we are giving from our hearts. Remember no gift is too small.