Dear Hyde Park Family,
“Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny.” – Mark 12:41-42
When the poor widow dropped her two coins into the Temple treasury, something remarkable happened. It’s not just that she entrusted her last bit of her wealth to God’s work, though that alone is a lesson for us. It is also that Jesus even noticed her do it.
Jesus often had a way of keenly noticing possibilities of God’s activity all around him, even when things felt dire and hopeless. When others saw a hungry crowd, he saw a boy’s fish and loaves and turned it into a meal. When the crowd was pressing in on him as he passed through Jericho, he noticed a short tax collector named Zacchaeus and went to his house for supper. When others saw grains of wheat, mustard seeds, sparrows and lilies, he viewed them as portals to deeper spiritual truths about God’s grace, love and power.
All of us have had our own personal responses to last Tuesday’s election. Regardless of what our own political philosophies may be, all of us had elections that went the way we hoped, and others that didn’t. Some races we felt we “won,” and others we felt we “lost.” That’s the nature of elections, especially in an era of broken, binary, polarized politics.
I wonder if this text from Mark, our Scripture passage for Sunday, might be an invitation for us to focus on the little things, the small glimpses of God’s grace and hope that might strengthen and encourage us, regardless of whether our candidates won or lost.
- I’m heartened by my two daughters, Grace and Madelyn, who are so energized to be able to vote someday soon that they woke me up early on Tuesday morning to make it to the polls. They wore their “Future Voter” sticker proudly for the rest of the day.
- I’m heartened by the many parents who brought their children to the polls, including one mother who responded to her son’s questions. “Why should we vote, Mom?” “Because,” she said to him, “it is a right we should never take for granted.”
- As the father of two daughters, I’m heartened by the election of so many women to the U.S. House of Representatives, a historic number, both Democrats and Republicans, and a diversity of backgrounds: African-American, Hispanic, White, Native American, Christian, Muslim, LGBTQ and various ages.
- I’m heartened by our decision to restore voting rights to 1.4 million Floridians who have paid their debt to society for their past crimes.
- I’m heartened by Hillsborough County’s decision to raise needed funds to strengthen the infrastructure of our public schools. I drive by the makeshift air conditioning system at the gym of Plant High School every day. Our children deserve better, and I’m glad the voters agreed.
But there is also a spiritual reality at play for me.
As Christian people, we can’t ever conflate our citizenship in this country with our primary allegiance to the kingdom of God. And that means we should not ever expect the systems of this earth to provide a security and well-being that only God can provide. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses,” says Psalm 20:7, “but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
What if we took some time to notice how God is working in and through this church, in simple and subtle ways, through the widow’s mites that are offered in the ministries of this church every single day?
- I’m heartened by stories like a young man named Michael, who became interested in Christianity while living in a country where those interests subjected him to persecution. So, his parents bought him a one-way ticket to this country last September in order to pursue his growing interest in Christianity. After spending a few days in Washington, D.C. and Orlando, he found his way to downtown Tampa, where the host of his hostel told him about a place called The Portico, an unconventional place to draw spiritually seeking people into the love of Christ. And on Oct. 14, Michael was baptized into the Christian faith.
- I’m heartened by our upcoming SERVE Day at the Metropolitan Ministries holiday tent, in which hundreds of our congregation will make a difference in the lives of needy families and children. You can sign up now to help out on Sunday, Nov. 18.
- I’m heartened by a Vision Team that is putting its final touches on an exciting vision plan for our future, that we will be sharing with you in some upcoming town hall meetings after Thanksgiving. You will want to attend one of those meetings and get a glimpse of the bright future God has for us.
There are many others. What glimpses of God’s grace have you noticed? Reply back to this email. I would love to hear from you.
For now, I invite you to read these words from my daughter Grace. She writes a weekly column for the youth group called “Glimpses of Grace.” This most recent one was written before last Tuesday’s election. Here is an excerpt:
“I am reminded of a quote by Abraham Lincoln, ’The strongest bond of human sympathy…should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.’ He spoke so assuredly during such a polarizing time in our nation’s history about the importance of unity, and I encourage everyone to reciprocate those sentiments in order to mend some of the brokenness that the world feels today.”
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist