Silent Witness

I’m guessing he was about four years old. He held treasure in a clutched fist held out over the collection plate. He didn’t let go. His father, holding the youngster on his lap, was in no hurry. I, however, held my breath to see if his fingers would unfurl.

Inside those few moments of drama these thoughts raced through my heart. What was clasped in that dimple-knuckled hand? Where did he get whatever riches he possessed? Was it a gift from his dad? Did he earn it by doing chores? Was he reluctant to give it away? Was he simply basking in the sacred, timeless space of something we call worship?

Then came another flash of questions that pierced my heart and reddened my cheeks. What treasure had I brought? What gifts had I received? Did I earn it? Did I deserve it? Would I give it away, give it back? Well, I’m pondering these questions because, actually, I’d brought nothing. I casually took the empty plate and passed it along, still empty.

In slow motion the boy’s fingers opened. Out tumbled a single copper metal coin catching the reflection of the altar’s candlelight as it fell.


With one hand his father passed along the plate, while, with the other, he rustled his son’s sandy-blonde hair. The child’s smile mirrored that of his dad. The child’s smile mirrored that of his Father.

Take a Deep Breath of Remember.

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4 (NIV).

Photo Credit: Ron Silflow

5 thoughts on “Silent Witness

  1. I was right there! Love the observations and insight into the smallest (seemingly) gestures. Good to hear from you again.

  2. Glad to have you back “on the air” again, Ron! I’ve missed your little memos on life that goes on around you as they give me something to put in my “back pocket” and take out from time to time to think about.

    I agree with Mary Ann – the story is short and it was just another passing moment among a hundred busy lives… but, you had eyes that see. Not only does the moment tell a story, but each detail you describe tells another.

    “…dimple-knuckled hand” Well, the child isn’t going hungry and his needs are being well met. Our Father has well taken care of us… why is it hard for us to open our hand when He calls?

    “His father… was in no hurry.” This is a “no-hurry, no-worry” kind of dad – secure in his Father and secure in being a father. “Sorry folks, this may take a moment with my son… and that’s o.k.” Wise dad knows that the power of this moment comes from the son making his own choice of obedience in his own heart. Wise dad is acting with the same nature to his son as he sees in his “no hurry, no-worry” Father work with him. I picture our Father saying to those around us, “Sorry folks, this may take a moment with my son… and that’s o.k.” except “moments” may be years in our learning that obedience is the best pathway.

    I love how you took a tiny moment and retell it as a story of tingling suspense… and then, “Clink!” you drop the anti-climatic punch line. A penny! All that, and it was only a penny! Its probably not a stretch to suppose that dad may have a million pennies in the bank ($10,000 if my math is correct) and the kid is worried about putting one of them in the offering? Well… yes. And is it any different with us? As a youngster on our Father’s lap, our Father already has set aside the wealth of His kingdom for our behalf… and we struggle to let go of one penny.

    Ron, you have a way of weaving a thread in these stories of humbly confessing your own shortcomings and I see myself… it makes me pause and say, “Father, that is me… I have been that way.”

  3. You reference the widow’s offering from Luke 21. It reminds me of another widow – Elijah and the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17. She gave ALL she had first to the prophet of God and the flour and oil was multiplied to last for her and her son until the end of the famine. Jesus said that the widow put in more than ALL the others because she put in ALL that she had to live on. I think that is literally true – the two “pennies” that the widow put in were multiplied and produced more than all the money that the others gave from their excess and to show off to men.

    If those widows had not taken that leap of faith, they would have starved and died. They knew that they had to get themselves out of the limits of the world’s economy and into God’s economy where giving your last becomes multiplied back to be all that you need. The Father gave Jesus and see at all the sons and daughters that are multiplied back to Him AND the defeat of the enemy!

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