And to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Luke 2:24 ESV
This morning I was thinking of how, Mary and Joseph had heard from angels and watched shepherds and wise men kneel before Jesus, but when they came to the temple to dedicate God’s miracle child, they offered only the sacrifice of the poorest of the poor. Though they were not ashamed to come to Herod’s golden temple with their babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, sometimes I wonder why God chose two doves for their offering.
Think how different it might have been if God had picked a princess or the wife of a wealthy merchant in place of Mary. But God chose a young peasant girl from Nazareth to be the mother of His Son. He specifically selected a poor village for Him to grow up in and a simple carpenter to provide Him a home. No place on earth was too humble for the Lord of the universe to visit and no offering too small for Him to treasure. And maybe it is like when I tell my grandchildren, “One cookie isn’t enough! You need another so there will be one for each hand!” Maybe God chose two doves so that they would have something in each hand to give Him. So, if you wonder what you have to give God this Christmas, think of Mary’s turtledoves and then come with whatever He puts in your hands.
And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. Mark 12:42-43 ESV
Last week we had just finished our Christmas caroling time at a nursing home and began to pass out some large print Christmas devotional books as our gift to the residents. Most of them lit up with smiles and thanked us for the book, but when one of our volunteers came to a table in the back, the lady reached out and slipped three one-dollar bills into their hand. Despite urging her that she didn’t need to pay for our gift, she insisted, “No please take it! I want to give something!”
That dear lady not only reminded me of the widow in today’s verse, but she also showed me that longing to give is a basic desire of every heart. Some of us, unfortunately, have had that desire dampened by people who have taken unfair advantage of us. But Jesus never mentioned anything about how well the two little coins she contributed, were spent. What mattered to Him, was that the love she gave with, made the gift precious. None of the rich guys who went ahead of her and made a big deal of their offerings had impressed Jesus. But the small sacrifice that she eagerly gave with a pure heart was a treasure to Him. That also reminded me that whether we have gold, frankincense and myrrh or just two pennies, God sees more than pennies, and He is watching our hearts today!
And he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. Luke 21:2-3 ESV
Three years ago, we hadn’t met many of our neighbors yet since we had just moved in, so when I saw the teenage boy pull in the driveway across the street I called over “Hey good morning!”, hoping to strike up a conversation. Surprisingly he didn’t even turn his head to look at me, and headed into his house. I was a bit put off and grumbled about that “unfriendly boy across the street” to my wife later. Nancy paused to let me finish griping, then she said, “He’s deaf you know. He can lip read, but he had to be able to see your face.” In an instant, not only did my attitude completely change but I felt pretty silly to boot.
When ministering at nursing homes, whether for Christmas, or any other time, one of the most important things we can do is to listen with our eyes, just as my deaf neighbor would have done if He could have seen me. In this third and final installment on preparing a Nursing Home Christmas program, let’s take time to consider the value of really seeing the people we are called to serve. In the same way that deaf people lip read, we need to pay attention to people’s facial expressions and body language while we are singing, giving gifts or putting on a Nativity play. We shouldn’t just plough through our well-planned program, then announce proudly to others how loving and generous we have been. We need to watch people’s faces to see how they are responding. If someone is just staring off into space, then catch their eyes and smile. If you see those in the back, turning their heads or cupping their ears, move closer as they may not be able to hear the song. Don’t let your “Silent Night” be silent because they can’t hear the notes! Ask God for help to not only listen to the words of greeting as you shake their hands to say goodbye; but take time to see them as Jesus does. Then maybe we will hear more than people’s words. We will see them as God does when we learn to listen with our eyes!