OPEN Anniversary: Part 3

CoreGroup Discussion Guide - November 20, 2022

Welcome! We are excited to be together again for connection, learning, and growth. This is the final week of our OPEN series, which means it’s time to really reflect on our giving practices and decide what sort of financial commitment we are willing to God through the ministry of The Gathering. This week in CoreGroup we are discussing a story from the Gospel of Mark often referred to as The Widow’s Mite. This story describes a widow who gives two small coins to the temple treasury. Jesus witnesses this offering and describes how great her gift is, because it represents a greater proportion of her wealth than the larger gifts of other wealthy religious leaders. Through this story, we are asked to wrestle with what Jesus says about generosity. As we noted last week, topics related to money and giving can be hard, especially when it feels like the conversations are loaded with guilt and shame, expectation and judgment. We hope that our CoreGroups can continue to offer a safe, grace-filled space to discuss these challenging topics together. Let’s jump in!

Opening Prayer: God, thank you for this group, and for the opportunity to take some time out of our hectic weeks to gather together once again. Thank you for the many ways you have blessed each of us this week. We pray that you be at the center of our discussion today, that you help us be open to your guidance, your nudging, and your encouragement as we explore what it means to be truly generous in our giving. We pray all of this in your son’s name. Amen.

Ice Breaker: In the past 24 hours, what is one thing you are especially grateful for?

The Head:
The Widow's Mite
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus and his disciples were observing people around a collection box at the Temple in Jerusalem. This was a massive complex and they would have been at an area by the treasury where several boxes were set up for people to give offerings. The scene described seemed to be a lively area where money was flowing, when Jesus noticed something. 

“Jesus 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.” [Mark 12:41-44]

The insight Jesus had in this story is pretty amazing.  He noticed a widow in the crowd and watched her closely. This widow would have been invisible to most people at that time, but not Jesus. He saw a faithful woman, who from hopeless poverty, honored God. But then the story ends, with no mention that Jesus even interacted with the widow. 

How would you describe this scenario from the perspective of the widow? Retell the story from her vantage point. The mite, also known as a lepton, was a Jewish coin and the smallest used in New Testament time. At the time of Mark's writing, it was worth 1/64 of a denarius, barely more than a penny. Why does the widow’s offering matter so much when the actual amount was so little?

How would you describe this scenario from the perspective of the rich people? Just before this story Jesus offers a stern rebuke of the Pharisees and their feigned piety. Why do you think Jesus now critiques the giving of the rich, even though they gave so much?

The Heart: 
How do these types of stories make you feel, especially when you put yourself in the place of the rich leaders? Jesus is clearly saying we should try to be more like the poor widow when it comes to our giving, but it’s hard not to feel protective of our hard-earned resources and defensive of our giving habits. What do we do with these very real and justifiable feelings?

In what ways do these discussions about giving motivate you to change your thinking, or your lifestyle, or both? What is the biggest roadblock towards making these changes? How does this translate to your giving practices all year long, not just during annual giving campaigns? 

Have you ever felt that your efforts, whether they are offerings, gifts, or other resources, go unnoticed? How does it feel when your generosity goes unnoticed by others?  Explain how you feel knowing that your generosity is seen and valued by God, just like the widow was seen and valued by Jesus even though he never spoke to her?

The Hands:
Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” [King James Version] What is one aspect of The Gathering’s OPEN vision that is most compelling to you? How will you contribute to this vision with your time, talents, resources, and/or prayer?

Call to consider: 
Why do I give? (or not)
Why do I give to church?
Why do I give to this church

Closing Prayer: God, thank you for this group and for the many ways that you provide for us. We are thankful for the blessings you have given each of us - large and small. As we go forward we pray that you would open our minds to a new understanding of what it means to be generous in our giving. Place on our hearts a vision for what you are doing in and through The Gathering and how we are called to be a part of that. In your holy name we pray, Amen.

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