As told to me by someone in attendance at the Churchwide Assembly…
On Saturday a worship service was held at Central Lutheran Church, just across the street from the Minneapolis Convention Center. This congregation has hosted Assemblies, Conventions, and Gatherings of Lutherans for most of its long life. The sanctuary is large enough to hold 1200 people, so it is comfortable for these large worship services.
The church was full. The music was sung in both Spanish and English. The preacher preached a first-person sermon from the perspective of the widow who gave two copper coins.
During the sermon, there was a kernel of an idea that started to emerge way in the back of my brain. I wanted to give more. I had already given a great deal at each of the other worship services. I needed travel money back home, so I wasn’t quite sure just what I could give. I tried to push aside the now growing in intensity need to give. It just wouldn’t go away. The voice in my head said, “You’ve got that emergency stash in your billfold.” My voice in my head said, “That’s for an emergency!” The voice in my head said, “You’ve got that emergency stash in your billfold.” My voice in my head said, “That’s a one hundred dollar bill!” The voice in my head said, “You’ve got that emergency stash in your billfold and the widow gave all she had, you can keep your travel money.”
The voice in my head won. I reached into my wallet, pulled out the one hundred dollar bill, and put it in the offering plate (folded so no one would see how much it was) with all the fives and ones. I noticed that. Why wasn’t the Holy Spirit speaking to all these others? I wondered what the counters would think. For a moment, I wanted change. And then, I let it go.
The trip home was uneventful, but I had to eat inexpensively. I didn’t have as much travel money left as I thought I did.
I’m glad I listened to the voice in my head … no, I’m glad I listened to the Holy Spirit. I’m embarrassed that I argued against it. I’m the one who received the best gift out of this experience. It felt quite good to be generous. Tell the story. Don’t use my name.