Learning from a widow’s faithfulness — Family faith formation for November 7, 2021


Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy as a way to begin your time of learning together.

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?  

One:    Christ, the light of the world.

(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?

One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.

(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place)

All:      Who is with us?

One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the scriptures  

(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?

One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God

(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?

One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the Table.

(Place a symbol of Communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread and grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.   

God sightings and prayer offerings

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something a person, community, experience, event, etc. for which they want to offer prayer.

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world … [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for … [Invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier.]. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Connecting with Scripture — Mark 12:38-44

Read the scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

For the second reading of today’s text watch this animated version.

Connecting through story

Watch this episode of Steve Hartman’s On the Road.

  • What did the man have to give?
  • Why do you think he gave what he had?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue

  • Why was Jesus warning the disciples about the “scribes?”
  • What were they doing that caused Jesus to imply they were hypocrites?
  • Why do you think people were giving money?
  • What do you think was in Jesus’ mind when he used this occasion to teach his disciples and those gathered around him?
  • In what ways does giving affect the wealthy?
  • Why did Jesus diminish their contribution?
  • Why do you think the widow gave what little money she had?
  • Why do you think Jesus praised the widow?
  • What was he trying to teach the disciples?
  • What is a sacrifice?
  • What does it mean to give sacrificially?
  • Where do you share what you have?
  • What would it mean for you to give all that you have?
  • How is that an act of faithfulness?
  • What does it say about who you are?
  • What does it say about your relationship with God?
  • What would be easy about it?
  • What would be difficult?
  • What is our motivation for giving to help others?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion

  • Sometimes this story is called the widow’s mite. A mite was a coin in ancient Israel. It would be worth less than a penny today – in fact, it would only be worth about an eighth of a cent in today’s value. The treasury mentioned in this passage was where people gave money that was then used for charity.
  • In Scripture, widows represent far more than a woman whose husband has died.
  • The “widow” in Scripture was a person in society who had little to no power — politically, financially and socially. Ordinarily, they did not have the ability to own or inherit property and lived at the mercy of their relatives. They were afforded very little legal protection and often found themselves depending on the kindness of others and on the justice mediated at the gate of the city.
  • When the prophets admonish God’s people to care for the “widow, the orphan and the immigrant,” they are speaking of those who are marginalized, forgotten and devalued. They are, in Jesus’ words, “the least of these.”
  • Jesus harkens his followers back to the 8th-century prophets who warned of God’s anger over the wealthy and the powerful increasing their gain on the backs of the poor. He highlights the wealthy who put in large sums and questions how they became so wealthy. They gave what was easy. Their way of life was not at-risk or diminished because of their contribution. There gave out of their abundance — there was no sacrifice.
  • However, when the widow comes with all she has – the equivalent of a penny – she is found to be the more faithful. She gave from her scarcity. Her ability to even afford the basics was at risk because of her giving.
  • Her act of faithfulness is the greater witness — not the greater amount of money given by those who could afford it.
  • Her ultimate trust in God’s providence was proclaimed in her sacrificial giving; an act that echoes the sacrificial giving of God in Jesus Christ.

Explore the global, ecumenical project Fellowship of the Least Coin and consider participating.


Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

Rebecca Davis is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.