One Sunday in spring, the deacon looked into the offering plate while counting the morning offering. There they were again! Two weeks in a row, three small buttons had nested among the coins and bills in the offering plate. This was becoming a pattern. “Who would put buttons in the offering?” he wondered. “Since it happens only on Sunday morning, it could be anyone,” he surmised. Church buses brought kids and adults alike from all over the city on Sunday morning.
The buttons appeared each week for several weeks, and the deacon decided it was time to say something to Pastor Craig. Confused, the pastor had nothing to offer. Dismissing it as a practical joke, he suggested that the deacon do the same.
But the buttons kept coming.
Then one cold Sunday morning the deacon was surprised to see that no buttons appeared with the offering that day. He’d become accustomed to seeing them and, somehow, missed them being there. He had a strange feeling that there was a portentous rationale for the buttons not being there.
The following week, the buttons were absent again. A feeling of loss dominated the deacon’s thoughts. To him, three little buttons had become a necessary part of the offering. Strange!
Again, the deacon voiced his concern to the pastor. Pastor Craig still had no clue. But, now his curiosity was piqued!
As winter matured, the church was astir with the activities that prelude a holiday season. Everyone bustled with plans for plays and parties that were scheduled for Sunday School classes, youth groups, senior members and married couples. In all the chaos, the deacon soon forgot the buttons. But, surprisingly, Pastor Craig became intrigued with the mysterious three little buttons.
During all the festivities, Pastor Craig was called to a home in the poorest section of town. As he drove through the streets, he was embarrassed that he had never been in this part of town although it was close to the church. He excused himself with the fact that he’d been very busy. As the pastor of a large church in the center of the city, there was a lot to do. A strong self-esteem was bordering on false pride, but he shrugged it off as he neared his destination.
He felt a chill as he entered the ramshackle house. The family was huddled around the old wood stove trying to keep warm. All eyes turned on him as he entered the room. The sadness on each face belied the cheery greetings they voiced. One man nodded toward the door under the stairway, and Pastor Craig turned to enter the room without speaking.
It was cold inside the small room where the little girl laid, despite the fire crackling in the fireplace. No curtains graced the lone window, and he could see that snow from the night before had blown through the cracks in the boards onto the sill--and it wasn’t melting.
The little girl’s face lit up at the sight of her pastor. She felt closer to God as he entered the room. She knew she would soon be going to be with Jesus. The doctors had told her. But, while she was waiting, it was good to see the familiar face of Pastor Craig. She felt so special having him there.
He stayed for a while and prayed with her. Then, at the doctors bidding, he turned to go. Holding her hand in goodbye, he felt her press something into his palm. He grasped it as he left the room, not looking to see what it was.
In the car, tears streamed down his face as his eyes fell on the three little buttons that lay in his palm. He knew this was a final offering and that no more buttons would appear in the Sunday morning offering plate. His tears turned into sobs as he realized the impact of such a gesture. His fingers tightened around the three little buttons that, to him, meant more than the “widow’s mite”.
The little girl hugged the empty tin that once held the buttons her mama had given her before she went to be with Jesus. “Mama’s going to be so proud of me for giving my most precious gift to Jesus,” she thought. Then she smiled as her little hand went limp and slid off the precious tin that once held what most of us would consider to be just ordinary buttons.
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