There was a widow who gave to Elijah her last morsel of food. Her actions show the value she placed in her trust and love for God. There was nothing more important to her. There was another widow who donated her last pennies to the Temple. Jesus explained that her actions revealed her values; not about showing off, like the scribes often did, but to show her gratitude to God. Nothing was more important to her. The lesson today from Hebrews describes how Jesus’ actions of giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins has shown what was most important to Jesus. These are all lessons in CORE VALUES. It is clear for the two widows, it is clear for Jesus – what was the MOST VALUABLE THING.
The values we carry with us through life affect our behavior. These values can change, and when they change, our behavior will likely change too. In fact, it is important that we pay attention to what our values are, and how well we integrate them into the way we live.
About six years ago this diocese produced a strategic plan that defined our diocesan core values. I am chair of the Budget Committee, and we read these values at the start of every meeting. We make sure that the values guide our budgeting process. The values are: Christ-centeredness, Reconciliation, Passion, Creativity, and Integrity.
What are YOUR personal core values? What have you decided will guide your actions, and prioritize your life? Have you been intentionally to choose the core values that you will live by? I remember the personal values I signed up for at age 14. I memorized them – I guess for all time – in the Scout Law.
A scout is;
Trustworthy loyal helpful friendly courteous
kind obedient cheerful thrifty brave
clean and reverent
This Fall, as the time has come to make a Giving Commitment for 2019, our theme is Transforming Generosity. That theme invites us to think about examples of God’s generosity in our lives, and how we respond to that generosity. How do we value the source of what we own, where we live, the family we have, and even life itself? Where does it all come from? Is all of this a sign of God’s generosity? And then, what values have we decided to hold onto to guide us? What values might need to be adjusted or replaced? How do we live them out so there is integrity between the values we choose and the actions we live by?
In the Gospel passage, Jesus voices his anger with the scribes who walk around in long robes, looking important and religious, but their goal is to be noticed and honored, and to even take advantage of widows. Jesus expects integrity between the core values we choose, and the actions that the world sees.
Please take out the bulletin insert titled “Unexpected Messengers of Jesus”. The author tells her story of experiencing generosity in unexpected places. It is a good read, and I recommend it to you. Cathy Clement summarizes her story with two questions for reflection:
1) What acts of generosity in your life came from unexpected sources?
2) How have they called you to your own acts of unexpected generosity?
[Tell of Pat making a personal project out of flowers for the Bishop’s visit. Stela donating personal time to prep for the Halloween Party; Mariza giving many personal hours to prep & cook & serve the luncheon last week– only asking for cost to cover supplies.] Mariza wrote to me, “I have never felt so good working in an environment like St Luke’s and Little Bridges families. I love how people always get together and want to be part of everything.” These are only a few examples that reveal a culture here of gratitude, and of generosity. Gratitude and generosity. Those are fantastic Christ-like Core Values.
I pray that we all may choose the values of gratitude and generosity –
so fully that they guide our actions;
so completely that they spill over to the people around us;
so abundantly that they transform us, and our community, and our country.