Four pennies — even when added together they are not a lot of money nor are they much to build on.
Putting your two cents worth in is a slang saying for expressing your opinion. So in one sense, four pennies might be seen as two people sharing their thoughts and ideas. But as long as all they were doing is talking and sharing ideas then usually not much actually gets accomplished.
New ideas and theories are fine, but they do not change lives or the world around us. Nothing happens, and nothing changes until someone puts their faith in the theory and takes action.
In a recent children’s sermon, I wanted to demonstrate this. I handed out hymnals and asked everyone to turn to, “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less,” which was one of the hymns we were singing that morning.
Once everyone had found the page I began reading. It soon became apparent that what I was reading did not match the words everyone else was seeing. After a moment I revealed that I was reading from a different hymn. I was reading from page 378 instead of 379. By adding one more, by going just one page further, the confusion was cleared up, and we were all on the same page.
Then I showed the children that I had four pennies in my hand. When I asked if I could borrow a penny, a little girl handed me one.
I dropped her penny into my hand saying, “When we add this penny to the others something amazing happens. They are no longer a handful of pennies. They are now something entirely different; they are a nickel.” I gave the girl all five pennies and forgot about them.
Later in the service, the little girl came forward and handed me a nickel. The pennies had indeed been transformed. Guided by the Holy Spirit, she had visibly demonstrated what I had been talking about.
Conventional wisdom holds that one person cannot make much of a difference. The world is too big, we are too set in out ways, and our problems are too large and complicated. Conventional wisdom may well be right; especially if we give up and do nothing.
In the late 1400s it’s believed that most people thought the world was flat. Christopher Columbus became convinced that the world was round. It turns out he was right, but if he and the daring men who sailed with him had not put the theory to the test, we would still be living in England and Europe firmly convinced that the world is flat.
A few hundred years ago a small band of explorers changed our view of the world. A few weeks ago a small girl changed a handful of pennies into a nickel. Imagine what we can do and how we can be transformed when we let God’s Holy Spirit lead us and guide us.
John R. Fowler. John is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Prosper.