November 11, 2018–How Much is Enough?

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Anne Williams, Ankeny, IA

 

Warm-up Question

  • What’s a lot of money for you? Not like being a millionaire, is $500 a lot for you? or $1000? Or maybe even $100.
  • Do you give an offering? What’s the right age to start giving an offering to church?

How Much is Enough?

At the end of September, St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Sydney Australia introduced pay as you go offering. Using tap and go technology, like McDonalds does, you can tap your chip enabled debit or credit card on the side of the offering plate. No more need for carrying cash or writing out a check! No need to sheepishly whisper “I already give online” when not putting anything in the plate! Seems like a great idea! Some embraced the new technology saying, “I hate it when I turn up to mass and realize I don’t have any cash, I would love this option at my parish.”

Others were in shock! Not about the use of the technology per se, but how the church decided to implement it. The minimum donation was $10 and the announcement on social media read “Multiple payments of $10 can be made by tapping your card once with several seconds in between each transaction.” Much of the social media storm seemed to be about the minimum offering! One Facebook user commented “If you had made it [a] $2 minimum we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.

The response on social media was so strong that the initial announcement about tap and go offering was taken off the Cathedral’s Facebook page and this comment was put up in its place: “Thanks to the people who took the time to make rational and coherent comments on our recent post about the new collection plates.”

Discussion Questions

  • Would you use or debit or credit card in church to make your offering?
  • What is a good amount for a minimum offering?
  • Should you even have an idea of a minimum offering?

Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Picture this: Jesus and his crew are hanging around the Temple Courts in Jerusalem, they are watching the comings and goings of both the ordinary worshipper and those who make their living working for the Temple or as Temple officials. The worshippers coming in and saying their prayers and leaving their offerings would have been from every class. Some would have been wealthy merchants, some of would been day laborers who worked for enough money to buy one day’s worth of food.

But there’s a group of scribes wandering around together, probably talking about some ancient text they are working on. These scribes make their livings through the Temple system. They copy manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible. They write down the thoughts of smartest Sadducees and priests. They like to flaunt it. As Jesus says in verse 38, they like to walk around in long robes and like to be greeted with respect. Jesus is warning his disciples that the scribes have no time for charity – they devour widows’ houses, and they want only to make themselves look good. According to Jesus, these scribes with receive a greater condemnation (v.40).

The scribes wander off, leaving Jesus’ disciples wondering what this condemnation might be, when Jesus decides to sit down across from where people make their offering. The disciples look for places to sit close by, maybe to catch a glimpse of what Jesus is seeing. They sit and watch people, all kinds of people, make their offerings. Jesus sees a woman start walking up to the treasury, he calls his disciples to watch her. They can see she’s going to make an offering, but she can’t have much – all she has is two small coins. To be honest, it looks like all she has in the entire world. Jesus looks back at his disciples seated around him and says that the widow has put in more than all the others contributing to the treasury. He goes on to explain that since she gave all she had, all she had to live on, she gave more than those who gave their “extra” money to the treasury.

After watching her leave the Temple courts, Jesus stands up and calls for his disciples to follow him, it’s time to see something else…

Discussion Questions

  • It’s clear Jesus prefers the poor woman over the scribes, why?
  • Thinking back to the warm up question, what would you consider an abundance of money? How much would make a real difference in your life?
  • Could you give up your last $5 to your church? Would you?

Activity Suggestions

  • Invite your pastor, a member of your church council,  or perhaps the congregation’s treasurer,bookkeeper, or accountant to share with the students how much it takes to keep your congregation running. Have them discuss the important of benevolence – the church giving offering to the synodical or churchwide ministries, like ELCA World Hunger.

Closing Prayer

Gracious and loving God, you give us everything, from the air in our lungs, to the resources we have to spend. Help us make wise choices, as individuals, families and congregations about how to honor the offerings given and shared by your faithful children. Amen.

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