True Life
Elizabeth of Hungary
19 November 2018
I know the power of the God who fills up those who have become poor. He never lets the flour container go empty or the oil cruet run dry (1Ki 17:9-16). But perhaps His rescue will not come until we have run out of resources, until what we think, wrongly, we have produced for God has run out. Sometimes we do not hunger for what is God's until we become starved.

God is willing to let us starve if we need to starve. God forbid that he should withdraw his generous care of us; that he would snatch the gifts of body and blood from our altar or that He would deprive us of His holy life-giving Word. Paul alerts the Corinthians to their starvation from the gifts of the Table: "It is not the Lord's Supper you eat" (1Co 11:20)! Lutherans have suffered precisely this fate where modernistic liberalism has taken over the church and her proclamation. This has happened here in America and in the home of the Reformation, Germany itself. The church has become a slave to every wave of culture by which it is tossed to and fro and blown about by every windy man-made doctrine. Preaching has become dry as dust, mouthing only political correctness. The Bible is no longer taken seriously as God's gracious self-disclosure. The spiritual pantry is empty here and in Europe. And we in our Lutheran congregations are not immune from these baleful influences. Our flour canister can run dry and the oil cruet can go dead empty if we ourselves no longer hunger for these things, just as the elderly suffering from Alzheimer's disease sometimes starve to death, because they no longer savor food; they no longer hunger for it.

The outward appearances of life can fool us into believing that we have true life and true abundance. The widows in 1 Kings 17 and Mark 12 were not fooled by this appearance. They could give away what was left of the appearance of their life, knowing that they had a life that was quite beyond what was in the pantry. There are many people who think lots of stuff means that they have an abundant life. Jesus wants to disabuse us of that notion by pointing the widow out to us. About her Jesus says, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on" (Mk 12:43-44). She gives away her whole living and yet still has life in abundance, because it comes from God, not from her possessions. This is a wonderful lesson to learn. She gives not left-overs. She does not offer from the margins but gives away the very center of her earthly existence and yet without fear of losing true life. Her true life cannot be taken from her, because she has a God who cares for her.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"St. Peter exclaimed: 'You have the words of eternal life' (Jn 6:68), that is, words that give eternal life. The apostles remained faithful to this message of Christ and did not depart from it. The others, however, despised it. Even today coarse and ungodly people say: 'Who cares about heaven so long as we have enough flour here on earth?' Or: 'Why do you prattle about eternal life so long as there is enough in this life?' And yet such people claim to be good evangelicals. The Lord wants to teach them not to cling so tenaciously to temporal goods, to this life and its nourishment. God bestowed all this on them long ago, and He is content to have them use their earthly goods for their sustenance and for service to Him. But they should think beyond this, and so He says: 'Do not labor for the food that perishes.'

"This is a Hebrew way of speaking. It is as though He were saying: 'The care of your belly is your one concern, whereas you should be interested in baking the proper bread and providing yourself with bread, corn, or grain that does not perish. Sow such grain, pluck such ears, gather such supplies into your granaries, thresh them, be concerned and work hard to procure imperishable bread, food that will not let you die. Acquire a treasure that will not pass away.'"

Martin Luther, Sermons on John's Gospel, 6.27
Mark 12:41-44

And [Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." (ESV)
Mighty King, whose inheritance is not of this world, grant us the humility and benevolent charity of Elizabeth of Hungary. She scorned her jeweled crown with thoughts of the thorned one her Savior donned for her sake and ours, that we, too, might live a life of sacrifice, pleasing in Your sight and worthy of the name of Your Son, Christ Jesus, who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns one God now and forever. Amen.

For all those who are enslaved to a besetting sin, that they would be enabled to run with patience the race that is set before them by looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith

For all those who are doing medical research, that the Lord of all would grant success to their labors so that those who suffer and are threatened by death would be healed

For Ileene Robinson, that she would be strengthened in her body and built up in her spirit
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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