The Pennies on the Floor
Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for 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 (NRSV)
What’s your giving temperament? Some are impulsive, responding to a stranger’s GoFundMe. Others plan carefully, contemplating QTIP or Charitable Remainder trusts. We may be grudging, feeling pressured to contribute to a friend’s birthday fundraiser on Facebook. Some give anonymously, caring only about the good to be done, while others relish the kind of credit that bends the definition of generosity.
The story of the widow and her two small coins is often used to encourage us to give everything we have, yet Jesus points to the well-off who gave only their insignificant extra: the pennies on the floor of the minivan, the change back from a cappuccino.
The church my wife serves is preparing for a capital campaign, and we are praying about what we will give. The timing is awkward, as I leave a part-time position with a regular paycheck to focus on my coaching practice with its uncertain bottom line. Still, we are better-off than many; when we ask each other, “What are we willing to give up in order to give more?” it’s not a choice between medication and the light bill, but weekly date night versus Saturday pizza with our kids.
The real call to sacrificial giving rests on those who have much.
All-giving Jesus, may your stories press on us when we consider what we can give. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, Executive Director of RevGalBlogPals, and the co-author of Denial is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith).