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In whom or in what do you trust?

I Kings 17:8-16,Mark 12:38-44

Rev. Alan Taylor

Pentecost 24, Proper 27, series B
St. John Lutheran Church  
Galveston, Texas

Sun, Nov 11, 2012 

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

In whom or in what do you trust?  As Lutherans we have a pat answer to that question.  "We should fear, love and trust in God above all things."  The question though wasn't in whom or in what should you trust?  It was, in whom or what do you trust?

The point is, our attitudes and our actions, even our language, sometimes deny, defy, and taint our confession!  Many of us woke up Wednesday morning pretty depressed because our candidate didn't win the presidential election.  Some of us, on the other hand, woke up elated because our candidate did win.  In Galveston county, based on the results I saw, about 65% of you were disappointed Wednesday, and 35% of you were happy. Due to the results of the election some of us think our future holds very little, if any, promise.  Some of us, on the other hand, think the future holds great promise.  And all of this because of the election of one man to the office of President of the United States of America.

Today, those who worship at the altar of American civil religion as the highest good, either celebrate their salvation or they lament the fall of Jerusalem.  However, "kingdoms rise and fall but the Word of our God stands forever."  "Trust not in princes, my friends; they are but mortal; Earthborn they are and soon decay.  Vain are their counsels at life's last portal, when the dark grave engulfs its prey.  Since mortals can no help afford, place all your trust in Christ, our Lord."

In whom or in what do you put your trust?  Both the widow of Zarephath and the widow who put her last penny in the church offering box were confronted by that question.  For them it wasn't an academic or philosophical question.  The time had come for them, as they believed and trusted in God, for their faith to be tested.  In whom or what did they trust? 

The widow of Zarephath had only enough flour and oil left to a make a little bread cake for her and her son.  It would be their last meal.  They would eat it together and then they would die.  The widow knew it and she seems to have accepted it.  She and her son were suffering, as was everyone else in the region, because it hadn't rained in that area for some time.  No rain meant no grain and no grain meant no flour and no flour meant no bread.

As if her situation weren't bad enough, Elijah, God's prophet, came along and put the woman in an even more difficult position.  The woman knew that Elijah was a man of God.  In fact, earlier God told her that He would be sending His prophet to her and that she should feed him.  Still, when Elijah told her she should bake some bread and give some of it to him before giving any of it to her son, she found herself confronted with a difficult decision.  Did her son not deserve this last morsel of bread before he died?

In whom or in what would she trust?  Should she trust God and go ahead and feed His prophet, or, should she trust her instincts and feed her son first?  Actually, there is really more to her dilemma than who to feed first.  In asking her to bake him ome bread Elijah promised the woman something. He said, "the jar of flour would not be spent, and the jug of oil would not be empty, until the day that The Lord sent rain upon the earth."  Would thewidow of Zarephath trust God's Word or her instincts?

Her faith in God and His promises was challenged. With that last little bit of flour and oil she was being asked to put her life, and the life of her son, completely in the hands of God.  If God's promise she and her son would live.  If, on the other hand, His promise was false, she and her son would die having given up their last little bit of bread to a stranger.

There is an old saying, I'm sure you've heard before.  "A sparrow in the hand is worth more than two in the bush."  Better to go with the sure thing than to trust that something better is yet to come.  Essentially, God said to the widow, "if you'll give up what you have, I'll provide for you!  I'll take care of you!" She must have looked at the jar of flour in her hand and thought, what should I do?  Should I trust God's Word or this flour that I'm holding here in my hands? 

The other widow watched as everyone else in the Synagog put their money in the collection box.  Who knows how often she went through the same ritual.  She didn't have much.  Many other people who came to the collection box had been tremendously blessed by God.  They had great wealth.  For some of us it's a bit embarrassing to put a meager amount of money in the offering plate.  Especially when we see people putting in large amounts of money.  Still, there is no indication that the woman envied what everyone else had.  Nor is there any indication that she considered herself to have been slighted or cheated by God.  She was a widow with but a mite to give. 

What should she do?  Should she give up her last penny?  Or, should she hold on to it to help her make another day? 

As you know, both the widow's put their trust in God.  The widow of Zarephath fed the prophet and the widow with the mite dropped her penny in the offering box.  As to the widow of Zarephath, "she and Elijah and her household ate for many days.  The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty."  As for the woman in the Gospel reading, "God praised her because she put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

How difficult it is for us not to put our trust in the powers and the things of this world!  I recall many years ago, when I made my first trip to Indonesia.  I was an auditor with an oil company at that time.  I had gone there to audit the accounting records of the accounting department of our company in Jakarta.  When I walked into the head accountants office, there was a sign behind his desk that said, "In God we trust.  All others we audit!"

We trust in God not just for our salvation, but in all things.  Luther reminded us what it means for us to confess that God is the creator of the heavens and the earth.  "God richly and daily supplies me with all that I need to support this body and life.  He protects me and guards me from all harm and danger.  He does this purely out of Fatherly divine goodness and mercy without any merit or worthiness in me.  All for which it is my duty to thanks and praise, to serve and obey Him.  This most certainly true."

Each of the widows gave the last they had as a statement of trust and obedience in the God who created them and loved them finally unto death, even death on a cross.  God is greater than a morsel of bread, for, He is the bread of life.  He's greater than a mite, for, he has redeemed you, not with gold or silver, but with His own precious blood.  He's even greater than the people who fill the seats of power in our government, for, He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  So, whether you are elated with the results of last weeks elections, or, a bit discouraged, remember...

"Christ is your treasure, he your joy,

Your life and light and Lord,

Your counselor when doubts annoy,

Your shield and great reward."

"Upon your lips, then, lay your hand,

And trust His guiding love;

Then like a rock your peace shall stand

Here and in heaven above."  In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting.  Amen.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

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