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Posts Tagged ‘sermon on the widow’s mite’

'Two Cents' photo (c) 2010, opensource.com - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Here is a sermon about the widow’s gift.  It questions the “what’s in it for me” mindset, and it asks whether the church is doing the right thing when we try to appeal to people primarily on the basis of “what’s in it for them.”

Givers and Takers
A Sermon on Mark 12:38-13:2 and Philippians 2:1-11

Jesus was a keen observer of people.  He could see deep down into people’s hearts and discern what really was going on there.  He saw the truth.  And the truth he saw in the hearts of many of the scribes was not pretty.  “Beware of the religious pros, the experts in God’s law” he warned.  “They like to stand out in their distinctive robes.  They want to be seen, admired, honored.  They like people to defer to them. They like to be seated at the head table.  They make a big show with their long prayers.”

And their self-serving attitudes and behavior didn’t stop there, Jesus pointed out.  Some used their position to take advantage of the weak and the helpless.  Widows were a case in point.  Women’s position in society was precarious.  They depended on their husband or a male relative for what they needed to survive.  If a woman’s husband died, ordinarily she couldn’t inherit and hold property.  If there was no male relative to administer the husband’s estate, a professional—one of the scribes—had to do it.  Too bad if he charged an exorbitant fee for the service.  The fee was usually part of the estate.  A victimized widow had no legal recourse.  She couldn’t sue because women were not allowed to testify in court.  In Luke there’s a story of a widow who nagged a judge to help her.

Here’s one way to describe the kind of folk that Jesus warned against.  They were takers.  They were greedy, self-serving takers.

It wasn’t long before Jesus saw a widow who might have been one of their victims.  He was watching people putting their offerings in the Temple collection containers, big boxes with trumpet shaped mouths.  Many wealthy people put in large sums.  You could hear the weighty coins clinking and clanking.  No doubt Jesus also could see what was in their hearts, too. Jesus could see who was being genuinely generous, and who hoped to be seen, and who was giving out of the leftovers, what they would never miss.

But then a poor widow came to make her gift.  From her dress it was obvious that she was a widow, and that she was poor.  In her hand she held two tiny coins, the smallest, lightest of all.  They were thinner than the coins we’re used to.  I imagine them feeling noticeably lighter in the way that my grandmother’s aluminum spoon felt so much lighter than the rest, which were stainless steel.

This widow quietly approached the collection containers, put in her two halfpennies, and slipped away.  Maybe some of the wealthier folk gave their gifts mostly to be seen.  But I think it’s safe to say that this widow made her gift for some other reason.  Perhaps she didn’t want to be seen making such a small gift.  If other onlookers even noticed, perhaps they laughed and poked each other in the ribs, or they shook their heads with pity.

But not Jesus.  He looked into the widow’s heart, and he saw something that touched him.  (more…)

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