Next year, in 2019, the world will mark thirty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. While many were surprised by this “breaching of a monument to division” (David Lose, Working Preacher 2009), it is important to remember that this event was preceded for several months by the peaceful protests of the citizens of Leipzig. They gathered by candlelight on Monday nights outside of St. Nikolai Church, first by thousands, and then with numbers swelling to over three hundred thousand - more than half the population of that city - singing songs of peace and hope and protest. And then the wall began to come down.

We should never underestimate the power of song.

“But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”

As a child I was given a small wooden box in the shape of a heart. I’m not sure if it was for my birthday or for Christmas. I’m not sure if it came from my parents or maybe from my maternal grandmother. But I remember that it was beautiful, stained and polyurethaned, with vines stenciled on the front.

And I knew I only wanted to put truly special things in that heart shaped box. Such as the small garnet stones I had gotten in the Adirondacks or the baby tooth I had from when I was little (I was 8 years old by the time I received this box, after all, practically grown up in my own mind).

I treasured that box and I treasured and pondered the things it held for me, the treasures inside; what they meant in and of themselves, and what they meant to me, the one lucky enough to be entrusted with them.

In our postmodern era, some have asserted that truth is all relative to one’s perspective. Yet it is our perspective that is relative, not truth. How I experience the taste and feel of water is my perspective, not whether water exists. How people perceive and experience racism or other “isms” varies dramatically based on our upbringing, social standing, the color of our skin and host of other factors, but there is no disputing that racism exists. 

There’s a story in this month’s Living Lutheran online and print magazine that tells about how Lim Forgey, the music minister at Christ Lutheran Church, Visalia, California, noticed children playing outside the dumpster by the church. Lim noticed that one of the children wasn’t even wearing shoes. (Living Lutheran, Nov. 2018)

Now there are many stories in the news about children in need in this country and around the world, stories of families stuck in hard times because of job loss or illness, because they’ve had to flee violence and are stuck in refugee camps or at borders. It can be easy to lose heart when we read or hear or watch about such stories day after day.

What does it take to change the world? 

What does Jesus give for the sake of our lives and the world?

Just like the widow in today’s Gospel story, who puts everything she has into the temple coffer, Jesus holds back nothing when it comes to this world. The teaching and healing of his earthly journey - Jesus says, “I give them to you.” My last breath from the cross and first breath after I am raised from the dead - Jesus says, “I give them to you.”