What Do You Provide?

Monday, September 9, 2013 — Week of Proper 18, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 982)

Psalms 41, 52 (morning) // 44 (evening)

1 Kings 13:1-10

Philippians 1:1-11

Mark 15:40-47

About this time a few years ago, my parish started including brief stewardship testimonies in our Fall worship services. One of the speakers gave the congregation a good laugh with her honesty about giving behind her husband’s back! She usually attended church with her three young kids, while her husband didn’t come very often.

She opened her speech like this: “When I first saw the date that I was scheduled to speak, I thought, ‘Good. My husband Mike will be here. He can keep an eye on the kids while I get up and talk about why we give to All Saints.'” She paused. And continued: “But then I thought, ‘Wait . . . Mike doesn’t even know we GIVE to All Saints!'”

I remembered this candid insight into someone else’s family finances when I read about the women in today’s gospel. The passage tells us that many women “used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee.” The gospels describe lots of people as followers and disciples, but these women were also providers. I wonder what resourceful and creative ways they found to give to Jesus.

Perhaps it is this ministry of providing for Jesus’ needs that kept these women closer to him than his other followers at the end of his life. These women weren’t just looking to receive what Jesus could offer, to learn what Jesus could teach, or to follow where Jesus would lead. They also provided for him, changing the directional flow of gifts between God and humankind. Then, these women didn’t hang back from Jesus in his dying hour. They didn’t hold back whatever they could do for him even after his death.

After the crucifixion, other disciples may have scattered not only from cowardice, but also from the belief that Jesus could do no more for them. Yet instead of asking what more Jesus could do for them, these women continued to ask what they could do for Jesus. They kept track of Jesus’ body’s resting place, and they prepared spices and oils to care for him.

When I think of following Jesus, I usually imagine him walking on an earthly mission or leading us into the reign of God. But just for today, we can try to imagine following Jesus the way that the women in this gospel did: following his lifeless body, asking not what it could do for them, but what they could still provide for him.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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