Empty-handed – Malcolm Gordon and Michelle Lang
This way of prayer explores the widow’s offering from Mark 12:41-44. We find Jesus celebrating the widow’s offering, not because it is the most valuable, but because it is the most costly. She gives everything she has, leaving her empty-handed. Perhaps this empty-handedness is part of what Jesus values so much. Then the widow has nothing remaining to give to God but herself, her very life and energy and time. How often do we give things in the place of ourselves? In lieu of getting involved with our own time and talents, how often do we put money up instead? This way of prayer is about exploring the kind of giving that only the empty-handed can give.
Give everyone a stone, a stick and a counter. Invite them to reflect on what they might represent. Don’t tell people what they signify, but ask them to think how these items might speak of the stuff of our lives; our material possessions, the things we spend time and energy on, perhaps the manner in which we live (and whether this includes busy-ness, anxiety or weariness).
Pass the collection bags around, and invite people to place one item in, taking a moment to consider what it means to offer this part of their lives to God. Repeat this two more times until everyone is empty-handed. Then send the collection bags around one last time. Invite the congregation to reflect on how God might be asking them to give themselves. You may find it helpful to play some quiet music in the background during this time, so people are not anxious about taking time to prayerfully wonder. You may like to find more offering bags if it will mean people can take longer during this time.
At the end, lead a short prayer, perhaps including the response:
“Lord, lead us into the kind of giving that only the empty-handed can do.”
Supply enough for everyone to have one of the following:
Small sticks or tooth picks
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