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Recently, I was introduced to a rather provocative
American Roman Catholic priest and theologian,
by the name of Fr. James Alison.
He is somewhat in the same line as the popular
Contemplative in Action writer, Richard Rohr.
In Alison’s book – “Faith Beyond Resentment,”
he writes about how hard it is
for some Christians to “do” theology…
to practice what we say we believe, consistently.
Alison is the type of Jesus follower,
who is ready for action in ministry,
you might say - he is a risk taker!
Police Sergeant Kimberly Munley
certainly knows about taking risks,
you may remember her as a true American hero
saving many lives
during the terrible events at Fort Hood, Texas
a few years back.
Her risk and Alison’s action
both point to this --
Faith is about trusting in ourselves enough
to simply say –
“OK God, I can’t do this any more?
I need you to take over now.”
Fr. Alison refers to these “big moments…
as places where the heart begins to crack.”
Members of A.A. and the allied Twelve Step movements
know exactly what he is talking about…
they like to call it….Step one:
“We admit we were powerless
over -- alcohol, sex, drugs, eating, etc…
and that our lives had become unmanageable.”
You know –
for sheer honesty and practical spiritual power,
there really is no more important step
than to admit this and say,
“I am powerless over ______ and I need help…”
It seems to me this is exactly
what both widows in our readings today are experiencing.
Elijah tells how powerless the widow was
over the many issues in her life.
But, her trouble was…
she couldn’t create a god big enough to help her.
In fact, what she really wanted
was for someone else to do it –
and “It” meaning to have a transformative
spiritual relationship with God for her.
But thankfully by God’s grace,
the Widow reached down into the well of her humanity,
and found something on her own…
and “IT” changed her.
Then, one day, Jesus remembered
a time when he was in Jerusalem
watching all the cool and the well-connected people,
parading into the temple with their gifts.
In the ancient temple,
there was a place called the Court of Women.
And in this spot there were 13 collecting boxes
called “the Trumpets.”
Each trumpet was designated for a special community need.
So, people would come and make large contributions,
to impress the onlookers.
Well, on this day,
Jesus saw something which stunned him…
this unnamed widow,
was throwing in two mites into one of those trumpets.
What was a mite?
They were the smallest of all coins,
and was worth about one 40th of one penny.
And yet Jesus turns to his friends and says,
“did you see what that poor widow just did?
She has just put in more than ALL the others combined . . .”
In other words,
she had just risked everything…Step one.
These two women allowed the flickering Light of Easter
as small as that may have seemed,
to once again burn in their lives...
They took a risk and it paid off…
maybe not exactly as they had hoped,
but their relationship with God WAS transformed.
And ya know,
maybe that’s what you and I may need to hear this morning…
“What are the risks we need to take…
so that we can begin to know God more and more.
To move into a relationship that is not locked up
in a book or a church social club,
but is active and lived out with consistency.
Speaking of action,
today in America is Veterans Day –
and we remember hundreds of thousands
of brave men and women
who have faithfully risked their lives
to preserve our freedoms.
Maybe by their example and countless others,
we too can have a renewed Hope
that God is calling you to…
take a risk in the search for a Job,
or to dream of a healthy new beginning…
God’s Dream for each of us is to be Free.
Free to step out with confidence and faith
so that we can embrace God’s eternal
and life-giving Love and Grace.
That’s a risk worth taking…