I don’t know if you ever watch the various antique and auction programmes on tv. Whenever I see them, I never cease to be amazed at the amount some items do – or don’t reach. Their value is obviously relative to the price someone is willing to pay. And then, as I watch, I begin to wonder how much the old items I have are worth. But then I think, that whatever price they may be worth, their value to us is far more, because they represent family history, and memories – they are actually priceless.
Some things are expensive, and there are others that are valuable. The two things are very different. Something that is valuable need not be expensive. It’s value lies in what it means.
Jesus told us about a woman who apparently gave something of little price – yet to her it’s value as great – it was everything. Not everything has the value we would put on it. Cost doesn’t always have anything to do with money!
She gave her all
Lots of people were gathered in the temple. They had with great pomp and self-importance given their gifts – everyone had seen what they had given, and they were very proud of themselves. The widow came along and quietly dropped in just two small coins – yet in percentage terms of her wealth – much more. She gave everything that she had.
Doing that has consequences. The rich people who gave apparently large offerings would not miss what they had given. This woman was putting her life on the line. She was not commended by Jesus because she emptied the coppers from her purse, but because she placed her own comfort and security in jeopardy with the gift that she offered. Even though it’s described as two small coins, it would not have been just loose change, but the equivalent today to perhaps a £20 note. That was what she chose to give to God. Everything that she had.
This woman gave her all in offering.
Those who gave their all
Today we remember those who have given their lives, their comfort, their security in offering for others. Those who gave not just a small part of themselves, but everything. Those who gave their lives for others are not people who were going nowhere, who had no life worth living. They are people with families, with careers, with plans, with nice comfortable lives. In recent wars, they are not even people whose own lives are in danger, but they answered the call, and gave their lives for the freedom of others. Who gave their ambitions, their place in life, their dreams, for the freedom and justice of others – and we give thanks.
There were those left at home, that watched their loved ones go – sons, boyfriends, fathers… people who were special and important to them, those who they valued. People who gave up comfortable lives, took on the difficult jobs as a back-up.
So many who gave their all for other people. We remember – and we give thanks.
Jesus gave his all
As Christians, we come also to remember Jesus, who gave his all for you and me. Jesus did not have to leave heaven. That was where he lived with God. But he willingly came into our world. He took on human life to show us the best way to live, the way God would live as a human. But he also gave that up. We get things wrong. Human society does not live the way it should do for the best of everyone. We cannot put those wrongs right, they are too big. God knows we can’t put them right, so he sent someone to do it for us – he sent Jesus. Who lived and who died for our freedom.
Jesus had never done anything wrong. That was why he could take on our sins, and has freed us from them – by giving his life. Now nothing need control us. We are freed from anything that threatens us, anything that worries us, anything we regret, and we are given hope and peace by Jesus.
All of which leaves us with a question:
What we give today – for peace, for love, for compassion.
We have thought of what others have offered, but what about us today. What can we do in and for our world? What swords can we be beating into ploughs, what spears into pruning hooks. What will we offer to other people? Do we give our all in offering – all that we are and all that we have? Or do we just give a part of us?? Do we want to keep something for ourselves?
In our offering to God – in our community, in our world, and through those, to our God? Am I willing to put myself, my choices, what I hold dear, on the line for someone else? For God?
You can’t give a bit of yourself when you’re in an army, it’s all or nothing. Your comrades depend on you.
We all have a responsibility, and a part to play in the world. Are we willing to give what we are to others, or keep what we are to ourselves. Peace, justice and love have to begin somewhere – what can we offer towards that from our lives.
Where is the love? Where is our love? It’s our choice, what will we give?