24th Sunday after Pentecost (November 11, 2012)
Common Lectionary Readings:
I Kings 17:8-16; Psalm 146; Heb. 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44
We spent the week in Ohio, speaking at Salem Mennonite Church about the Syrian refugee crisis and visiting with Cindy’s family. In addition to many meal conversations, we have had opportunities to put together puzzles, haul firewood, visit the MCC thrift store and watch election results. Daryl correctly predicted the outcomes in 48 of 50 states, missing only Colorado and Ohio.
In the Middle East this week:
- Jordan’s King Abdullah urged U.S. President Obama to use his re-election as an opportunity for a renewed push to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Dialogue, diplomacy and consensus building are the tools of change; will is the engine,” King Abdullah wrote in a cable to President Obama.
- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki cancelled a $4.2 billion arms deal from Russia, citing concerns about his own government’s corruption.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he is ready to order airstrikes against Iranian nuclear sites if international sanctions do not work. Meanwhile, Iranian fighter jets fired at an unmanned U.S. drone on a surveillance mission in the Persian Gulf.
The Common Lectionary Readings this week are about widows.
In the Old Testament reading, Elijah asks a widow in Zarepath to use her last handful of flour and drops of oil to make him a loaf of bread. “For thus says the Lord the God of Israel,” promises Elijah, “The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” (I Kings 17:14) The widow obeys. Just as Elijah had promised, “The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail.” (v.16)
The psalmist writes that the Lord executes justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, watches over the strangers, and upholds the orphan and the widow, while bringing the wicked to ruin (Ps. 146:7, 9).
In the Gospel reading, Jesus criticizes the religious leaders who seek honor while taking advantage of widows (Mk. 12:39-40). And while many make a show of contributing large sums of money, Jesus holds in high esteem a widow who places her only two coins in the temple offering. “For all of them have contributed out of their abundance,” Jesus reflects, “but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (v.44)
Two widows — both willing to share their only remaining resources. Both completely trusting God to provide for and uphold them. In an age when nations seek security through the accumulation of wealth and weapons, we have much to learn from their faith.