Blessings come to us in many different ways. Some we recognize in the moment while others might take a million breaths before we realize the blessing that came to us…once upon a time. For Naomi, a blessing came from her daughter-in-law, Ruth.
I know you recall the Old Testament story. There was a famine in the land so Elimelech took his family - Naomi, his wife, Mahlon and Kilion his sons and their wives Orpah and Ruth to Moab - to live out the famine. In a period of ten years, Elimelech and his two sons died leaving Naomi with her daughter-in-laws. Naomi counsels her daughter-in-laws to return to their homes so that they might once again find husbands. Orpah sadly kisses Naomi and leaves, but Ruth clings to her and refuses to leave her. At first glance, it doesn’t look much like a blessing. Does it? Fortunately, the story doesn’t end here.
The second half of the story has the nuance of an old tv show called the Dating Game. Only in our story, Naomi has specific instructions for Ruth to follow to catch the eye of Boaz, a kinsman. Naomi had been noticing how Ruth has found favor with Boaz, in a crafty way. You know the rest of the story and the genealogy of David is set in motion. Naomi is cared for. Ruth is loved and Boaz has a devoted wife and eventually an heir. All three of the main characters of this story have received blessings!*
Blessing or blessings is and are the connecting dot(s) to Mark's passage. Jesus and his disciples are at the temple praying, visiting and all the while, Jesus focuses on what people are contributing to the temple treasury. Mark does not say he is taking notes nor is he standing up, banging on the pulpit, if there was one, imploring people to give more. He is simply watching. At the right time, a poor widow comes and puts two copper coins into the treasury bucket. They are only worth a fraction of a penny. Now, here is the whole reason for their temple outing. Jesus tells his disciples that the rich who gave that day gave out of their wealth, but the widow gave out of her poverty all that she had. Jesus does not condemn the wealthy for what they gave. What they gave was probably needed. He also doesn’t say that he wished the widow would have just given one copper to the temple.
Where does the blessing go? You already know. Don’t you. The blessing goes to the widow. Why? Because she gave all that she had. There was no showboating, no weeping, and, as far as we can see into the passage, no regret on her part. The widow puts her life totally in God’s hands believing and trusting God. What a blessing. (Psalm 37:1-7).
* (see Walter Bruggeman, Theological Introduction to the Old Testament.)
By Rev. C. Wayne Clark is a retired elder in the Iowa Annual Conference who enjoys creative writing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.