Mark 12:38-44   As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces,  and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets!  They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”   He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums.  A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny.  Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

MESSAGE            “The Most Amazing Bible Miracle Ever”

Who’s here?  You’re here!  How did you get here?  By car, on foot, on a bike.  Over the last four Sundays Janet, Eric, Dan and Tamara have told us stories about how they got here.  Every story is different.  We got here because of children, siblings, parents or grandparents, because of friends, because of a wedding or a funeral.  We all got here in different ways, but it comes down to one thing, somehow we walked through the door and found a home, found a family, found a community that cares, found a community that meets our needs, found a community that welcomes our gifts and talents.

Our stewardship theme began in early October, with the dramatic story of the Phillippian jail and a powerful earthquake in the night.  Buildings rattle and shake.  People are frightened.  But to Paul and Silas, and the other prisoners, as the walls crumble and their chains break, it is an unmistakable sign of God’s power and love!  Praise God, who responds in our moments of deepest need!  When the dust settles the walls are thrown down, the metal bars smashed and the leg irons broken.  The prisoners are free!  But the man in charge of the jail is in despair, because he will be blamed if prisoners escape.  He decides to kill himself!  But then he hears Paul’s voice from deep inside the jail.  “We’re all here!”  There’s no reason to be afraid, no reason to be scared any longer.  The love of Christ is not for a few; it’s for everyone!

      “We’re all here!”, words from long ago, but also living words for the faithful in this present moment.   When we describe our ministry, the phrase “We’re all here!” represents our starting point and our goal.  “We’re all here!”, declares that our ministry includes an incredible group of people in the love of Jesus Christ:  members, friends, neighbors, visitors, seekers, saints, doubters, the lost, and the found.  Most importantly, “We’re all here!” includes you!

   “We’re all here!”  means we love to come together.

   “We’re all here!”  means we love to sing and pray.

   “We’re all here!”  means we love to learn and grow.

   “We’re all here!”  means we love to get involved.

   “We’re all here!”  means we love to help others, and love to be helped.

    “We’re all here!”  means we’ve found a church family.

     “We’re all here!”  means we’re committed to each other.  “We’re all here!”, however we got here.  “We’re all here!” as we move forward together in faith and hope.

I hope you noticed the title of my sermon, “the greatest Bible miracle of all”.  Do you wonder which miracle story it will be?  Was it Moses and the Israelites walking through the Red Sea?  Was it Danial unscathed in the lion’s den?  Was it Jesus walking on water?  Was it Jesus bringing back Lazarus from death?   These are admittedly some powerful miracles that got the world’s attention.  Whether you believe these stories or not, whether you believe they are scientifically proven or highly exaggerated, they have gotten your attention and added to our hopes and dreams in incredible ways.

But the greatest Bible miracle ever required no divine intervention, no extraordinary feat defying logic and reason.  The greatest Bible miracle ever did not involve thunder or wind, earthquakes or lightning bolts.  No fiery pillar in the desert, no manna from heaven, no small stone in a sling against a mighty giant.

The greatest Bible miracle ever is ridiculously simple, so simple that you might not even notice it if it happened right in front of you.  So simple that any one of us could do it right here right now today.

What is this incredible miracle?  I’ll give you a hint.  Jesus didn’t do it.  But he saw it.  And he told the others.  “Hey, did you see that?”  And then they saw it, too.

This is what Jesus saw, a woman walking past where the disciples were sitting.  She must have been noticeable to Jesus for several reasons.  Based on how she was dressed, based on how she carried herself, Jesus could tell that the woman was poor.  Perhaps there were other clues – maybe she limped, maybe she displayed visible wounds, maybe she was carrying a hungry child, maybe she was a foreigner, maybe she wore clothes more patch than cloth, maybe she hadn’t bathed in years, whatever it was, Jesus noticed right away.

And he also noticed what she was doing.  She reached deep into the folds of her filthy robe and pulled out two thin copper coins.  Take a look at one of our pennies. Her coins were as thin as a piece of paper.  Nearly worthless, but Jesus saw her put two of those coins into the temple contribution box.  Had anyone else noticed?  No, so he said something about it.  “Hey you guys, take a look at that”  Here’s someone who should be begging in order to feed herself and her family, but she has something to offer to God.

Now they had seen lots of other people parade past them that day, showing off their generous gifts, gold and silver coins.  Clunk, clang, ka-ching.  But the two copper coins barely made a sound.  But it got Jesus’ attention.  “Hey, look at that!  Everyone else is giving from their wealth, but that woman is giving from her poverty.  Take a close look, and learn something amazing, something incredible, something miraculous, maybe the greatest miracle ever.

You might feel that reading this story on Stewardship Sunday is a set-up.  Jesus noticing the woman could make you feel guilty or cheap about giving.  But that’s not why I’m telling you about her.  What I notice is her trust, her generosity, her fearlessness, her thinking beyond herself.  I can’t tell you her thinking or motivation.  All I can do is tell you about what Jesus observed.

So no earthquakes, no tidal waves, no volcanoes, just a simple gift by the most unlikely person possible.  It’s hard to see our giving as changing anything in a troubled world.  But what keeps me going is this strange belief that the coin I add may be the tipping point between what is and what can be.  Like the blade of straw that breaks the camel’s back or the snowflakes that causes the tree branch to crack.  And it’s not just me, it’s all of us in our church in the country with this wild belief that the next thing we do with a coin, or a hug, or a bag of food to demonstrate trust, kindness or love, may be the tipping point in God’s plan.   Think of yourself as the tipping point.