We end this liturgical year with a short series from the gospels. We’ve covered a lot of ground in this Year B and 2020-21. And rightly so; it has been a tumultuous time. Even here, as Year B comes to an end and the calendar year is almost done as well, we still feel that unsettledness of a world reeling and everything changing. Our call has been to get back to normal, though we knew normal is not our true goal. At least the normal of the way the world had been. There is too much that we needed to leave behind, too much that we needed to overcome – and still do. It has always been the mission of the church to bring transformation, so being unsettled shouldn’t be odd to us.
But it was odd, and it is odd. We get in our routines and our habits just like everyone else. Maybe it has been good for us to be so shaken. Maybe it has been useful for us to reexamine our practices and our patterns in order to move into the new world that is coming into being around us. Maybe the church that has been isn’t the church that is needed today. And our task is to discern that new community and new disciples and how we live into that new promise and new hope.
So, what would this new understanding of the life of discipleship look like? What are some of the markers that help us grow into a life that matters, as individuals and as a community of faith and transformation? This series is designed to give some answers to these questions. It is not, however, supposed to be exhaustive; there are a lot of other markers that might be included in such a list. But, guided by the lectionary-assigned gospel texts for these three Sundays in November 2021, we discover three elements out of many that go to make up “A Life that Matters.”
The first attribute of a life that matters that we will examine is generosity. Maybe this is an opportunity to refresh our call to stewardship. Stewardship isn’t something that should be heard only once a year and then when we are asking for a commitment to give. Generosity, as reflected in our gospel text this week, is about how we hold the stuff of this life lightly, even as we hold people and Christ tightly.
A well-known hymn that captures this idea of generosity is “Take My Life, and Let It Be,” 399 in The United Methodist Hymnal. The middle verse often catches us singing with our fingers crossed: “Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.” In this text of the widow’s mite, we need to grasp something of the high calling this life of generosity really is.
Perhaps it is time for a call to commitment, an opportunity for the whole congregation, corporately and individually, to declare their intention to give their all for the cause of Christ. Our prayers invite us to reflect on the balance between our commitment to things and our commitment to others through acts of service and responses of love.
Can we provide space for a reorienting as we worship together? Can we encourage a re-examination of priorities, or goals, or desires, as we seek to emulate this widow who was willing to give everything to God? The question behind a life that matters is, “What really matters to us?” Perhaps a bookmark or pocket card with this question would be a way of extending the worship experience beyond the benediction.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.