X
Live    Worship    Grow    Heal

The Widow’s Mite: A Reflection from UTO

The painting is by James Tissot, and is called “The Widow’s Mite” French, ca. 1886-94

Jesus sits opposite the treasury, where people deposit their temple donations.

A rich man tosses money in offhandedly.  The widow, carrying one of her children, walks away, her worried face telling us that she has given all she had. As Jesus  explains why hers is the greater gift, the disciples on either side of him and across the walkway are puzzled by his words, studying the woman and struggling to understand why she should be singled out for  praise, when her gift is so small.

Today’s reading from Mark is NOT the one about the widow’s mite. So why this Tissot?

Because today is the feast of Julia Chester Emery, who founded the United Thank Offering in the Episcopal Church. It raised (and still raises) money through the  cardboard mite boxes she invented: every woman in the parish got one, and put a  coin in it every time she remembered something for which she was thankful. Once  a year there was (and still is)  an “ingathering” of these boxes, and the money  sent to the national board, which received proposals for projects to fund.  UTO  has raised millions of dollars for projects throughout the world — new buildings, schools, hospital equipment, vehicles for transportation of missionaries in remote areas and many, many other things.

At a time when all formal decision-making in the church was in the hands of male  leaders, the UTO was a remarkable assertion of ordinary women’s leadership. Impressed as we are by visible, ostentatious power — with lots of $00000s — and by the welcome advances in women’s direct leadership,  the mite box reminds us that all good works begin with the individual, that nothing can be done if individual human hearts are not touched, and that many individuals — however humble they may think they are — have great power for good when they combine.

The mite box on the top of the pile is the one I remember from when I was a girl. My mother and my grandmother each had one, and I remember the annual ingathering in our little church even now.  That I still remember it is another lesson learned: our children are watching us, and they remember what we do. Thanks, ladies, all long since departed! You have made us what we are!

The reminder that the actual Blue Box offers us is to remember the many blessings our gracious God has given us each day.


by
Category: #Communications, #Stewardship, #Sundays

Respond to this:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Stories

Veterans Day Thursday November 11, 2021
October 15, 2021

Veterans Day in the US, Remembrance Day or Armistice Day elsewhere, is remembered on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – since 1918, when “the […]

Migration Missive
September 17, 2021

This is the first in a series of regular updates from our Diocesan Migration Missioner, Troy Elder, who can be reached at telder@edsd.org.  For further information about the Migration (formerly […]

New COVID-19 Policies for Diocesan Staff and Events
August 31, 2021

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego has been committed to loving God and our neighbors through public health policies that help ensure healthy practices within our […]

View All News
Receive the latest news.

© Episcopal Diocese of San Diego 2021. All Rights Reserved.