Thursday, March 3, 2011

A different approach to accounting

The Widow's Offering (Mark 12: 41)

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.

It is sometimes my privilege (and always a very moving experience) to attend Chapel at Sonrise School, a boarding school established by Bishop John to shelter, nurture, and educate orphans following the 1994 Genocide. I am amazed, moved, and puzzled during the Offertory, as I watch young orphans walk up to the altar, some with Rwanda's equivalent of "two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny", and I wonder where the child acquired even that. After observing this act of worship many times, I discovered that some of the orphans approach the altar with a closed fist, placing it over the mouth of the offertory basket with head bowed, and then open their (empty) hand, rendering to the Lord all that they have,... nothing,... yet I presume the Lord views and receives it as everything. Other children deposit a small scrap of folded paper upon which they have written a praise or a prayer of thanksgiving. Their offerings certainly eclipse my Citibank check thoughtlessly written and stuffed in a numbered offertory envelope while sitting in the church parking lot. Jesus cares about the heart, not the externals.