3rd February 2021

I remembered Auntie Bertha recently. It was my birthday, when I often remember her. As a child I always had a present from her. She wasn’t really my aunt. In my generation our parents referred to their friends as aunts and uncles. Also she was my regular baby-sitter. A middle-aged lady, much loved, who rode a motorcycle – until she fell off. Quite eccentric for the 1930s!

She lived with her sister and brother-in-law in a large house, with a maid and chauffeur. He owned a successful business. They were members of the church on Merseyside where my father was minister – the only affluent family in a largely working class church. But they were generous. In the days when a minister could not expect to own a car (a bike sometimes seemed a luxury), he would often send round the car and chauffeur on my father’s day off, for us to be taken for a ride in the country. And they were no less generous to the church. I doubt if many knew how generous they were, because they made no show of their generosity. I have come across similar people since, as no doubt we all have. Far from poor, but generous to the church. Of course, there are those who do make a show of their giving – not that the church very often refuses their gifts on that account!

The story of the widow’s mite (as it’s traditionally called) conveys an important lesson. But we should not extend it to despise the quiet generosity of those who are not poor. Perhaps their quietly modest generosity eases them through the eye of the needle!

David T Roberts