The reflection below was written by Rev. Dr. Alfred J. Fletcher, acting associate general secretary for Mission Resource Development, ABCUSA. Rev. Stacy Emerson, ABCUSA Stewardship Facilitator, provides a Litany for use in local churches: Click here to download the Litany in word document format, for use in bulletin inserts or Powerpoint/screen presentations during your Sunday service.
9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.
13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
I Kings 17:7-12
This is one of those stories that I find hard to understand. If you were looking for a widow to supply you with food, how would you make the decision? Wouldn’t you look for someone well fed and dressed? Surely, we would have passed on the widow of Zarephath.
What I fail to see in the story is the widow’s heart. It must be open to the stranger, so open that she is willing to share her last meal. This is no ordinary woman.
The heart of stewardship is a willingness to share with the least, the last, and the lost. God is always generous. Stewards must be generous as well or they’ll “take His name in vain”.
This is the reason Elijah stops; he discovers this widow’s heart. God is the one who provides our daily bread and the miracle of the jug that never runs dry and the jar that always has enough rests on God’s faithfulness and a steward’s willingness to share.
Many churches come into the fall drafting “next year’s budget.” Often it feels like they’ll have enough to “eat and die”. Remember the faithfulness of God and the heart of a widow. Invite people to trust in the God who is generous by calling them to generosity, faith, and hope.
A recipient of lavished grace,