The Widow’s Might

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money into the treasury.”  Mark 12:43

Admittedly, I have a habit of associating much of what happens in the world with the Biblical story. This past weekend I managed to tie 311 lyrics together with Colossians 3 for my brother’s wedding. Sometimes I even impress myself.

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When I see the image of Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson leaning over her husband’s casket, I can’t help but think about the story of the widow’s mite from the Gospels. It’s a story about a widow who literally gives everything she must the temple treasury. It’s a story about money, but also a story about a lot more. There is no doubt that in agreeing to serve our country both La David and Myeshia Johnson gave all of their lives.

In many experiences with people grieving the loss of a loved one, I have learned two things:

It’s never easy to walk with someone through losing a loved one.

It’s far easier to say the wrong thing rather than the right thing.

I commend POTUS for calling her. I understand that perhaps what he said wasn’t what he meant to say. Maybe the moment overwhelmed him and he tripped over his words. I realize I’m stretching the benefit of the doubt.

Here is where this gets problematic for me; we know that the POTUS is a bully who especially enjoys belittling women and people of color. At the very least he could have hung up the phone and not said another word about their conversation. Instead, he lied about what happened and took to Twitter to call Myeshia Johnson a liar. So, either a man who lies like its going out of style is lying or a grieving Gold Star widow is lying. You decide, right?

I cannot imagine the grief that Myeshia Johnson is experiencing right now. I cannot fathom the immense pain she feels. I do know that like the widow in the Gospels, she gave her all.  She continues to give her all. Like the widow in the Gospels, she inspires others to give more. Her might in standing up to a bully in this most difficult time is inspiring. I hope her might encourages us to each find our own might and say, “enough is enough.”

3 Ways to Have Better Table Talk this Thanksgiving

An extended family meal. We are sitting there, eating our turkey (we have multiple Thanksgivings
to get in, so had to do one early). Suddenly, someone brings up the election. I know they voted differently than me. Everyone stops eating. Polite chatter ceases. An awkward silence ensues. It continues  until someone makes a random comment about something else. The sigh of relief you hear is the collective exhale around the table that we are moving on to something else.

This scene will unfold around many tables this Thanksgiving. This election has stirred an unrest and a division in us that we have not experienced in some time. All of us are convinced we are right. In past elections, we were passionate about our candidates, but weren’t convinced the other one(s) were so awful. Not this time. We didn’t think the folks who supported the other candidate(s) were so awful. In many cases, not this time.

Now, we sit down to eat and to give thanks together.  Your uncle who is passing the green beans; thrilled that Obamacare will be gutted. Couldn’t happen soon enough. Your aunt passing the cranberry sauce; worried that her dear friends may have their marriage nullified if same-sex marriage is reversed. The pain and concern folks have is real. What is one to do? You know when folks rather talk about religion, something must be up. 

Here are three ways to have better table talk this Thanksgiving.

Don’t pontificate around the dinner table News flash: No one is really that interested in the article you read on the internet that you keep wanting to talk about.  Those gathered around the table love you for who you are, not because you think you are the smartest person in the room. There is a time and place for healthy, informed debate, but the Thanksgiving table is not the place. No one wants a slice of your opinions with their turkey.

Listen more than you talk Jesus shared many meals with folks whom no one else would eat. Tax collectors, sinners, you know the drill. I wonder if he did more talking or more listening? I would guess more listening. He understood that personal and social transformation begins where we are. We don’t know where people are at unless we listen. Listen to what is going on in others’ lives. Their challenges, their joys. Even close family members don’t overtly share everything with one another. Take a listen and you might be surprised by what you hear.

Find common ground Find something, whether silly or serious, that you can talk about. Maybe everyone agrees that your sister-in-law makes terrible mashed potatoes and everyone knows it but her. Hey, it’s a start. God has created life in a way that we have a shared dependence on one another. Whether we recognize it or not, we need one another. This is a gift, not a curse. Find something to discuss that is life-giving and a shared interest. Even if its a mutal dislike of the Dallas Cowboys.

Perhaps our dinner tables can be a source of healing this year. I mean, stranger things have happened. Save the neck for me Clark! Happy Thanksgiving.