Penny for Your Prayer

Yesterday, I preached on the story of the widow’s offering in Mark 12:41-44. The main point of my sermon was that Jesus noticed the widow’s offering. He heard her two coins in the offering box and drew attention to her sacrificial gift.

As I wrote last week, scholars may debate whether Jesus lifted her up as a model of Christian generosity or as a victim of the religious Temple institution or both. Whatever the case, he noticed her and asked the disciples to observe her.  Jesus observed and cared.

I want to rest on that observation for a moment and to acknowledge the wonder and joy of that observation. In a crowded, bustling temple courtyard, Jesus noticed a poor widow, someone whom the religious leaders seemed to ignore.

This morning as I walked into our church, I heard the birds singing. The Psalmist wrote about the temple in Jerusalem, “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young– a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God (Psalm 84:3).” Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt 6:26).

Jesus observation gives me hope. In our complex, crowded, busy world, Jesus notices individuals, you and me. We are not simply some nameless creature, wandering the planet.  We are not some number in a distant computer.  We are a name, a face, a life to God Almighty. God knows our needs, our situation, the pleas of our hearts.

As part of my sermon, I had the congregation first listen to the sound of a large bag of coins filling a metal offering plate: the sound of the rich people. Then I had them listen to the soft clink of two copper coins. One had to listen carefully to hear the clink. How wonderful that Jesus heard.

I also invited the congregation to take a penny home and use it as a reminder of the Widow’s prayer. The penny reminds us that God is always listening, and that our pleas will be heard by God.  It is not a lucky penny, but a reminder of a loving God.

Lord Jesus, keep me mindful that you are listening.

1 thought on “Penny for Your Prayer

  1. Sharon

    I found your story and and the pictures of a penny to remind us that God always listens. This came at a perfect time. My daughter is going through a very difficult time and needed desperately to be reminded that God always listens. Additionally, she found two pennies this morning so this couldn’t have been more perfect. Thank you.


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