“Making a Generous Gift”

Scripture – Mark 12:38-44

Sermon preached by Gregory Knox Jones

Sunday, October 23, 2022


Most of the time our attention is drawn to those who hold prestigious positions or have accomplished something grand. Our eyes are drawn to the successful and we overlook those of small voice and meager resources. But in today’s passage, Jesus prods his followers to focus on the actions of a poor widow.

Jesus herded his followers to the spot in the temple where people gave their offerings. It was called the treasury but it was not an office where people donated their financial gifts. It was a receptacle into which people dropped their contribution. It was made of brass or silver and people did not drop in paper money. Their currency was coins, so when they dropped coins into the treasury, anyone within earshot heard the clanging.

The disciples gawked when wealthy people dropped their offerings into the treasury. A sizable bag of coins made quite a clatter.

The disciples were mesmerized by the wealthy givers and nearly missed a woman who brought her offering – two tiny copper coins. After all that impressive ringing, the sound of two coins dropping in – Dink, Dink – likely made them feel embarrassed for her. But Jesus jolted them with a startling observation. He said, “This poor widow has put in more than all of those wealthy contributors. The others contributed out of their abundance; but she put in everything she had.”

Jesus transformed the tinkling of tiny coins into a thunder clap. The widow held back nothing. She gave all she had to God. It was a humbling moment for the disciples and it is a sobering teaching for us.

Yet the words of Jesus are not intended to embarrass us or make us feel guilty about the size of our gifts. He intends to inspire us to become generous and to make a gift to the church that represents a sacrifice. We are blessed to be a part of an amazing congregation that touches many lives and spreads God’s realm in the world.

Three of our members will remind us of what a gift it is to be part of a vital church family that constantly seeks to be faithful to God.


Rob Gooderham

Eileen and I found Westminster on Christmas Eve 2018. As we church-shopped that year, we were immediately struck by the vibrant and engaging atmosphere here at Westminster.

We are relative newcomers, and we had many good reasons to choose Westminster:

  • This community is energized, with members that are truly involved and devoted to Christian living.
  • Our pastors, Greg and Sudie, are both compassionate and thought-provoking.
  • Our talented choir and music director lift us up with inspirational music each week – we are thrilled to experience it again in person.
  • The service liturgy is clearly worded and to the point.
  • The church meaningfully supports organizations that improve conditions for those less fortunate – locally and elsewhere in the world.
  • Our lives are richer from the wide range of educational, bible study and informational offerings.
  • There is openness to change – in all the many adaptations to address the pandemic, but also in offering new service formats like Living Mosaics on the lawn.

For me personally, I am forever grateful for the support and grace I received two years ago when my parents in Toronto passed away. Due to travel restrictions, I was unable to attend their funeral. The eulogy for my parents was filmed using Greg’s iPhone here in this sanctuary. With the help of a technologically inclined Westminster member, it was uploaded to be part of my parents’ online service. Earlier this year Greg asked me, as a new Elder, to convene the Stewardship Committee. The Committee has had a busy year and you should have all received a 2023 pledge letter and card within the past week or so. We all have challenges when it comes to money – so does the church. With this year’s price inflation up 8-9%, next year’s costs are going up.

This year’s campaign theme is “Inspired Generosity.” Like the other leaders of this church, my love for Westminster inspires me to be generous this year and I hope that your love for Westminster inspires you to be generous too.


 Sandra Wermus

I teach at Concord High School, and every year we are asked to hone in on “why” we teach. I find myself asking the same question regarding other areas of my life. Which activities are we going to commit to this year, why are we focusing our energy here, how will everything work? I have always encouraged students to find activities to enrich their experience and connect with school.

I ask myself: “Why is church one of my family’s commitments and how is God propelling me to act?” I pray to find the time, because each year I realize how important Westminster is to me.

I love that we are a Matthew 25 Church, called to take our living faith into our communities and the world. Westminster offers a multitude of opportunities to do this by encouraging us to jump in – say yes, and show up!

Our church is not just a grand building; it has an inner beauty: its membership. Westminster’s people care for others, in and outside of our church walls. The people we have met in our fourteen years here exemplify what it means to be stewards of our community. Our church’s love reaches around the world. We feel joy as we raise our children in this community.

From the moment of their birth they were embraced here, as Jill Getty arrived with their roses from worship. We later learned how fully she gives her heart to all around her, making prayer shawls, meals, or working as a Stephen Minister: to me she is our own Mother Theresa. We have so many memorizes of caring and sharing: Greg and Anne baptizing Grace and William, Grace answering Sudie’s questions in children’s time, learning to sing in children’s choir with Ms. Alexis, and treasuring Mr. Huzar, Mrs. Reinicker and Mrs. Williamson’s lessons.

And we will never forget Rudy, the Spilecki’s therapy dog; I can still picture William on the floor next to him, a precious moment that drew him closer to our community. Of course there was much beyond WPC’s teachings that has bonded our family with church: wrapping Christmas boxes for families in need, seeing our kids walk down the aisle as the story about Jesus’s birth is told, taking our gift star from the tree, and now tales of epic manhunt games in 180.

Working on the Deacon board has been not only an honor, but a blessing, as people, like Jenn Blackford, show such thoughtfulness, generosity and love. It reinforces my belief that we can do great things together when I see Robin Rosser’s flower arrangements brighten others’ days, and working with our amazing team of Deacons. I love our church and the village helping our family.

I appreciate the efforts to make a positive difference in the city of Wilmington and love sharing how our members are part of the planning process to reconnect our city over I-95. The Friendship House outreach we provide, opportunities to build with Habitat for Humanity, and our work for justice and peace offers us opportunities to live our faith. I have been blessed to work with amazing leaders, students, and families through our Christian education classes. The opportunities to learn and worship at every age are present all week, encouraging us to follow God’s lead. This faith in action creates enjoyable memories and bonds us with God. These shared beliefs and values guide us each day and extend beyond Sunday.

This August, looking forward to my kids’ school years, anxious about what my own year would bring, I had a deep desire to get involved again in worship. September started and I felt a sense of renewal. I listened intently as Greg spoke about the Beatitudes, and what we would dive into this fall and left feeling filled with hope. Yes, HOPE! Something needed most this year. He spoke about acts of kindness that move us to help others. I entered my week, with my glass half full ready to serve others and embrace the joy that comes with service.

I am grateful that Westminster offers us ways to channel this energy into action. When Greg asked me to speak about my ‘why’, I thought of you – my church family. I asked Grace what she loved most about our church. Her answer was different than I anticipated; she said she liked that we are “current”. We look at the Bible through the lens of current times, applying God’s words to today.

1 Peter tells us, “as each has a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Please think about using your gifts to enrich our community of faith. After all the church is the body of Christ of which all believers are called to be a very special part.


Michelle Butler

I was out shopping for birthday cards the other day and I saw one that said: “I smile because you’re my family…I laugh because there’s nothing you can do about it!” Joking aside, we may not have chosen the family we grew up in, but through our extended family members, we’ve learned how to live and to have relationships. In I John 3, John says “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.” So, if we are all God’s children, that makes you and me Brothers and Sisters in Christ, right?

I’ve been aware of this concept growing up in the church, but never has it felt so evident as when Russ (my husband) and I joined Westminster. YOU are our family, and we feel blessed to be a part of it. Let me give you a few examples of how we interact with our Westminster family:

Just as we seek out our Moms that we know hold us up in prayer, we’ve been prayerfully supported by the Stephen Ministers through the sorrow of sicknesses and deaths in our family over the past several years.

Like my sister with an angelic voice, Tony and our Westminster Choir enchants us every Sunday and at special concerts with their gift of music and singing. Russ and I even had the opportunity to participate in the Covid Christmas Zoom Choir, even though we have very little musical talent!

My uncle was a terrific chef, and likewise sharing a delicious meal here like our Annual Meeting chili lunch has been a great way to get to know other members better. So, I’m looking forward to the Tri Board Dinner tomorrow night for Elders, Deacons and Trustees – our first time back together in person since Covid hit.

My grandfather had an enormous garden…how awesome is it that we have our own Community Garden and the new Sacred Grounds space, that was just planted 2 weeks ago by members of the Earth Care Task Force. Our congregation has even supplied fresh vegetables for the outdoor Riverside Community Fridge located downtown Wilmington.

One of my cousins loves to read and study, and similarly, Russ and I are part of the Thursday Evening Bible Study, where our small group has been systematically reading through the Bible (alternating Old and New Testaments!) since the beginning of 2020. If you’d like to join us, new family members are always welcome!

And finally, one of the things that drew us to this church before we joined was the passion for Mission. And it’s not just a passion of words, it’s a passion of action and deeds. From backpacks for Palestinian and Wilmington children; to school programs like Urban Promise and scholarships for students at Congo’s IMCK Nursing School; to sustainable food projects like the Syrian Livelihood Revival Project and food pantries like Emmanuel Dining Room. Further, we have opportunities to build relationships through experiential trips to Guatemala (like the one coming up in January) and by locally mentoring kids at the East Side Charter School.

It’s amazing what a family can do, especially with Christ at the helm, and I’m overjoyed that I’m a member of THIS one. Thank you!


Concluding Remarks by Dr. Jones

It IS amazing what a family can do with Christ at the helm, isn’t it? We are blessed to be a part of a dynamic congregation that is faithful to the call of Christ in so many ways. To express our gratitude to God we make a gift that represents a sacrifice.

When we give to Westminster, we insure that the teachings of Jesus will be taught and spread, and that homeless and hungry people will be housed and fed. When we give to Westminster, we insure that our secular culture of violence will be countered by a faith community of compassion; that our secular culture of exploitation will be countered by a faith community that strives for justice; and that our secular culture that promotes greed will be countered by a faith community that encourages generosity.

If you have not yet filled out a pledge card, I urge you will do it before the end of this week. And when you fill in the amount, I hope it will come from a place within you that is being renewed as you give a gift that is generous.