Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to what you say,
To see what you do.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.
Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
The lectionary guide leads us into the temple to where Jesus is standing as he watches persons drop their offerings in the great offering chest there. The wealthy, he notes, give out of their abundance: it does not cost them much to give. But then a poor widow catches his attention. She brings two small coins as her offering: all she has to live on.
Jesus turns to his disciples and calls their attention to her extravagant gift, given out of poverty. Her offering to God has cost her everything, and so Jesus says she has given more than they all.
Jesus is inviting us to see more deeply into how we, and others, live their lives; to reflect on what we see as valuable, as important.
As we stay on awhile in the temple, some persons standing around Jesus direct his, and our, attention to other gifts persons have given to God: the beautiful stones and gifts which adorn the temple walls. A different kind of abundance. But now Jesus begins to speak of a different kind of poverty: “As for these things you see. . . not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” His listeners desire to know when this will happen, but Jesus warns them against persons who predict a calendar date for God’s actions within our history. Rather, he draws their attention to how deep the poverty of his followers will be, but how abundant God’s presence and care will be.
He invites them to see being arrested, persecuted, and being brought to trial as a gift: an opportunity to testify. He encourages the poverty of un-preparedness when they come to trial; not to prepare their defense, for “I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.” He will be standing with them, and will give them the words and wisdom they need. They will never be alone in their poverty. They will know abundance.
When betrayed by family or friends, hated by all because of their love and belief in Jesus, and even put to death, they will be protected. God will hold them, even in death. Hope is not in the jewels and stones which adorn the towering structure of the temple; hope is in God, in the way of Jesus.
And so Jesus tends to shake us loose from our attachment to things, to money, to possessions. When he enters the “house” of our lives, he does the “extreme makeover”—but does not build us a new house while we are sent to Disney World. Rather the new house is within, the house of his in-dwelling through the Spirit of God. Old structures and values are dismantled, along with our fearful and tight holding on to wealth and things. A new and beloved poverty of soul emerges. We learn to trust Jesus, to rest in God, to be open-handed like the poor widow, to realize that buildings are not our security, and to learn that to follow Jesus will finally call us to walk counter to the world’s culture. But in that loss, we are rich. In that poverty we know abundance. Jesus is always with us. Always.
Take some time to indwell the narrative, to stand in the temple, and to listen as Jesus observes the generosity of the poor widow.
Sit with him as he speaks about the kind of push-back his followers experience in the world. What kind of poverty or rejection do you, or have you experienced? In what way have you been aware of God’s presence with you? The guidance of Jesus in those lonely places?
What might God be inviting you to let go of?
What might God be inviting you to receive?
Prayer before reading:
Lord Jesus Christ,
In this season of Pentecost
You come to us by your Holy Spirit.
Help me to welcome you,
To be with you as you indwell my life and being.
Help me to hear you,
To see as you see,
To turn to you in trust and faith,
And to learn to love you above all. Amen
Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.
Twenty-Sixth Week after Pentecost
11/11 Monday: Luke 21:1-4
11/12 Tuesday: Luke 21:5-19
11/13 Wednesday: Psalm 98
11/14 Thursday: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
11/15 Friday: Malachi 4:1-2a
11/16 Saturday: Luke 21:1-4
11/17 Sunday: Luke 21:5-19