The Widow’s Mite

This passage from Chapter 21 of Luke’s gospel was one of the Lectionary readings for October 1st.

Verse 1: He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; 2he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’

Luke 21:1-4

In our churches, do we shower the big givers with accolades for their contributions but ignore others who give smaller amounts but give sacrificially?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

This has been an issue for a very, very long time.

Jesus saw how this operates back in his time. It’s still going on today, of course.

Large churches–especially ones that have embraced and are spreading the prosperity gospel nonsense–will never be free of this tendency to put their large givers on a pedestal and slight or ignore members who–like the widow in this passage–give lesser amounts but are giving sacrificially.

Let’s resolve–whether corporately or simply in our individual lives–to focus on each person we know who are putting their hands to the work, and to not simply lavish praise on our fellows who are able to write the big checks.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Hear me, Oh Lord

This passage from Psalm 69, though written about 2,000 years ago, can nevertheless be instructive for us today:

16 Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good;
Turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.

17 And do not hide Your face from Your servant,
For I am in trouble; Hear me speedily.

18 Draw near to my soul, and redeem it;
Deliver me because of my enemies.

I’m certain that this passage strikes a cord with just about everyone. Psalm 69 is a well-known and beloved one.

I certainly can relate.

Having said that, I hasten to add that as we read this passage with our thoroughly-modern eyes, many of us would have some thoughts about how we often set ourselves up for misery and troubles.

We may meditate on the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships and keeping out of situations where our actions have created chaos and difficulties where Divine intervention seems our only way out.

And it’s also true that when we’re in tight spot and our problems seem beyond our abilities to deal with them, we’ll appeal to God to intervene and set our feet back on solid ground, so to speak.

And we’ll do that whether our troubles truly come from circumstances beyond our control or–as is often the case–our own decisions and actions have led to our predicament.

Plead for Divine help when you’re in a tight spot.

And be sure to also examine your choices and your deeds and take life’s inevitable troubles as opportunities to become better at keeping yourself out of misery, despondence and despair.

 

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Seventy Times Seven

Just about everyone on this planet understands how vitally important relationships are.

It’s a universal thing. It spans all cultures and has been understood since the time our species first appeared on the scene.

But it’s also true that understanding this and living it are two different things.

I was listening to two close friends this week talk about how some difficult scenarios have played out in their relationships–their family relationships, in particular–and how it’s affected them. And other family members as well.

It reminded me of some very similar times and similar issues in my own life.

And it reminded me that in our relationships–whether things are going well, or not–forgiveness is always the best way to go.

It’s not always easy; not at all.

It may not always be clear how we can even get to that place of forgiving.

But we must always try.

I am not so naive as to say that forgiveness is always possible.

But we must try. Forgiveness should be our lodestar, our goal.

And then we leave the outcome in God’s hands.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Is Anyone Listening?

Even though 2000 years have passed since the Psalmist wrote these words, their relevance is not lost on us today:

Lord, you are the God who saves me;
    day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
    turn your ear to my cry.

Psalm 88:1-2

In the thoroughly-Evangelical church environment in which I was raised, there was a lot of emphasis put on seeing God, seeing Jesus, especially, as an ever-present friend, one who “sticks closer than a brother” and that feeling is one that stays with me today.

I have never lost that feeling of certainty that one of God’s attributes is that he/she is that loving and abiding presence upon which I can rely.

It’s also true that having friends who are able and willing to be there for us–to truly listen to us in our time of need–can be a great comfort and an immense help in getting through life’s inevitable ups-and-downs.

Are you willing to be God’s ears today to a friend who may need that presence?

Are you willing to be God’s hands and touch someone whose well-being and whose very survival may depend on finding that loving and supportive touch, that Divine Presence?

Listening to one another is a good start.

May you–may we all–be God’s ears and hands today.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Yes, Friends, Love is Kind!

Today is National Love Is Kind Day. It’s a good day to think again about how important, how vital love truly is.

Love is what makes life worthwhile.

When love becomes the very foundation of our lives, we put ourselves on a path where the Divine One can bring others into our lives we can love. Friends whose love we can feel, lay ahold of and share.

Yes, love is kind. And it’s vital for our well-being. And for our very survival.

Here’s what St Paul said about Love in his Epistle to the Church at Corinth:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I Cor 13:4-8, 13

Keep moving in Love’s direction. Look for Love, seek her out.

Let Love be the motive for all you do.

And share the Love today.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Faith in Action

If you’re reading this, the chances are very good that at sometime in your life, you’ve heard a sermon or read an article on this well-known passage from the Epistle of James:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:14-17

I’m thinking you’ve probably heard quite a few sermons or homilies from this passage.

And that’s as it should be.

I recently came across an article by Avery Phillips at ProgressiveChristianity.org that does such an excellent job of fleshing out this subject that I’m going to insert the link to the article here and recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone following my blog. His treatment of how the Church as a whole bears this responsibility is the heart of the article and it’s well worth the next few minutes of your day.

It’s always a good thing to give thought to how good and compassionate thoughts or sentiments help to lead us to good and compassionate actions. That’s just how it works.

May we examine our lives and priorities as we turn our thoughts in this direction. As we think about the relationship between our thoughts, sentiments and beliefs and the right, compassionate actions which follow.

These actions validate our faith as authentic, and can show us that we’re on the right path.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Leadership Then and Now

The story of how David became King of Israel can be found in the sixteenth chapter of 1 Samuel.

God, as the story goes, found Saul to no longer be worthy of leading the people of Israel and had chosen David, a humble shepherd, instead.

This is the passage from the Old Testament that contains the well-known and oft-quoted verse:

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

From 1 Samuel 16:7

We can all be happy that we no longer have Kings who wield unfettered power over the people. But it is nevertheless true that in order for a leader to be effective, they must be worthy of leading, they must not merely have a surplus of political ambition or a lust for power.

They must care about the people they’re entrusted to lead and do so impartially, with the well-being of every citizen in mind and with an eye towards the common good.

David, for all his faults, was such a man.

Today, no one is surprised when our so-called leaders put on full display their pettiness, naked ambition and disdain for the citizens they’re supposed to be leading.

It’s no surprise at all. 

And it’s time to chose leaders who, like David, care more about the people whose lives and livelihoods are entrusted to their care than the results of their next campaign for re-election.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.