Page last updated



 The Savvy Investor
based on Mark 12:38-44
by Lisa in So. IL

What a difference a generation can make. Way back in the 1960’s there were protests in the cities and on campuses. New terms like “Civil Rights” were being heard. A war in a distant country was dividing the opinions of Americans. And Trinity Lutheran School, grade K-8 was having career day. Career day involved setting up booths in the gymnasium where different professionals would stand and tell interested students about what they did for a living. All this in order to help us young Lutherans make up our minds about what we wanted to do. Unfortunately, the careers that most of us wanted to take on weren’t represented. Paul McCartney was not there to tell us how to be one of the Beatles, nor were there any television stars present to show us how to get an agent. But there were the representatives of the more ordinary professions – fireman, policeman, doctor, plumber, mailman. Many, many booths set up. And all of the boys were invited to go in and visit the professions in the gym. Just the boys, because after all police, firemen, doctor those were boy professions. The place for girls was in kitchen, ironically enough. A smaller room, because there were only two booths for the girls to visit – nursing and teaching. What a difference a generation makes. To think within my life time things have changed so that now the young girls have all the choices in the gym –and equally important the boys can choose teaching and nursing too. I suppose some things haven’t changed – most young people would still rather be rock singers or television stars – but today we no longer say this profession is only for boys, or only for girls. The whole world of choices is open up to all.

What a difference a generation makes too, now that we read the story of the widows who gives all of her living. Oh, some things are still the same as they were in the 60’s, and some things are still the same as they were in Jesus time. When we look a the face of poverty, more often then not, then as now, we’re looking at the face of a woman. It isn’t surprising that when Jesus wanted to illustrate a story using the poor, he would use a woman. Woman have many more opportunities these days, but still don’t equal men in the amount of pay they receive. Imagine what it must have been like in Jesus day, when women had no real opportunity outside of marriage. A widow like this who had lost her husband could be in very dire straights indeed. If her husband hadn’t been able to make provisions for her, she would have very little to sustain her in her own age – and no way to go out and make a better living, no social safety net to give her a few extra dollars. This was a woman who knew what it was to be poor. Who probably knew the rumbles of hunger when she was unable to buy food. Yet in spite of her poverty she gives. And in fact, Jesus says, she gives more than all the rich people. Because she doesn’t just give what she can spare, a small percentage of her wealth – she gives all that she has to live on. She gives all, holding nothing back. What a difference a generation makes. If I were preaching on this 35 years ago, I might hold this woman up as an example of feminine generosity. I might say, “look how she gives, and isn’t that just like the women in our lives who give so much of themselves.” Actually I wouldn’t say that, because woman couldn’t preach in Lutheran Churches back then. But a pastor from back then might say, “Isn’t that just like the women of our church.” They don’t vote, because we don’t let them vote, they can’t be president of our congregation, they certainly aren’t pastors because who ever heard of a woman pastor,” but look how much they give and what would we do without these little ladies.” Well, we can’t say that anymore. Women in the church aren’t just in the kitchen anymore – we’re at the Council table, we’re in the pulpits – there are even some women who have been elected Bishop. We see women in the church differently these days. Full partners with the men in doing all the jobs in the kingdom. And maybe that can make us look at the widow in today’s Gospel lesson differently. Maybe instead of seeing her as a model of foolish generosity – a giver, yes, but foolish one none the less – maybe we can see her as a very savvy investor, someone who knew where to put her money to get the greatest return.

After all, what could two pennies buy anyway? Even in those days before inflation, that little bit of money couldn’t have bought much, not enough to keep her stomach from rumbling. She could spend her two pennies on bread – and still be hungry before too long. Or she could give it all to God, and trust in him to give her her daily bread. Put like that, we can see this woman with an investment savvy that could put a Wall Street shark to shame. She knew what the good investment was. She gave her money – and her trust to God. And although we can’t know what happened to her, I don't for one minute think she starved to death. Because the God whom she invested her money in, is not a losing investment. Her God provides. Her God gives the daily bread.

How savvy are we? Maybe you put some money away in the stock market this year. Well, too bad, a bet you now have less money than you did 10 months ago. Markets can’t be trusted. Markets weren’t designed to be trusted – they go us, they go down. If you put in in a saving account, you sill lose when you factor in inflation. But if you give to God, your investment got return. For in the act of giving you confessed where your confidence lies, you confess where you place your trust. if you gave like the savvy investor in today’s gospel lesson your living a life that knows who is the true source of riches. Many gave more in the temple that day – but she was the richest. She knew what true riches were. And how to invest in where the real return lies.

Soon it will come time for us to give. How savvy are we. Is what we put in the plate the left over crumbs after we’ve paid everyone else, and brought our goodies? How about when we leave church? Will we continue to give after we leave today? We’ll have the opportunity this week to give of our time, spending some moment in prayer, or reading scripture. We’ll have other chances too – we can visit with someone who is lonely or sick, we can write a letter, or go pick up litter on our street. God has given us so much – coins in our pocket, hours after work, talents and gifts. How will we use them? Will we only give what we can afford, scraping a few things together that we will hardly miss. Or will we be like the widow, like the savvy widow who knew where the return was greatest. May God bless our investment of time and money and talents this week. May he make us courageous to put it where it can count – and reap the reward that such investing in trust can offer.