Sacrificial Giving
2009-11-04 by Guy Kent

Mark 12: 38-44

I can remember her vividly even today. It was at my second appointment as a United Methodist pastor I encountered her. She was not a member of my church. But as is so often the case in rural parishes, she was related to several of my members. They called her Aunt Laura. Memory tells me she was not an aunt to anyone but rather an only child who never married. Nevertheless, she was Aunt Laura.

In my mind's eye, I can still see Aunt Laura walking down the road. Aunt Laura did not drive or own a car. It's Saturday morning. In her arms are clippings of flowers from her bountiful gardens. She walks at a rapid clip, born of a lifetime of walking everywhere she went, that belied her eighty-two years. The morning is cool which accounts for the purple sweater that tops her ankle-length dress. Cars passing her on the road honked in greeting. To some she held up the arm not cradling flowers and waved. The passers-by smiled. One could not tell if Aunt Laura smiled or not. Her face was covered by a surgeon's mask.

At her church, Aunt Laura let herself in with her key. She proceeded to the altar table, laid her cuttings down, removed last Sunday's array from the vase, carried them to the trash container, returned and arranged the fresh flowers in the vase to bring beauty to the next day's worship.

Every Sunday Aunt Laura's flowers decorated the altar of her church. It was her gift to God. Every weekday she labored heartedly in her gardens. One garden was for the vegetables she canned to provide her income. The other was for the flowers she grew to glorify her Lord. Every day one could pass by her place and see her weeding and pruning, fertilizing and cultivating. And every day Aunt Laura's face would be covered by the surgeon's mask.

Most of the people in the church were appreciative of Aunt Laura's offering. Very few of the people in the church were aware Aunt Laura was allergic to the flowers.





Giving as a Subversive Act
2009-11-03 by Stephen Schuette

The contrast is stark.  On the one hand there is the formalized practice of religion that is socially established and grounded in custom.  In this Jerusalem has become almost Greek-like, its temple on the hill and all of its business and political life ordered around it.  And ‘round and ‘round the wheels turn.  And the lubrication that keeps the wheels turning is part of the exchange.  I’ll compliment you on your nice long robe if you frequent my stand.  “Beautiful day, huh Charlie?”  “Sure is, Gert.  I’ll have two pigeons.  I hear there’s a race tonight out past Golgotha.”  “Yep.  I’ve got my tickets.  See you there.”  The conversations are so numerous they accumulate into a buzz.  Just another day at the temple.

And under the radar of others but noticed by Jesus is the woman who can’t participate in the business and political circles.  And she’s outside the social circles as well.  She’ll get no compliment because she has nothing to exchange for it.  She comes alone and she’ll leave alone, quietly, no word spoken.

But there she is.  And along with her she carries a faith…a faith that has been tested and tried, a faith that knows some things that others don’t.  And out of that faith she searches out the two small coins and pours them forth.

If the intent of Jesus’ ministry is the Kingdom of God here is radical faith envisioned and acted.  She is not a participant in “things as usual.”  She hopes for something much more because her hopes are not grounded in the usual circles of expectation.

I marvel at her thinking which is not bounded by the customary.  In this she is very much like the widow of Zarephath who, in her shortage, divides what she has in order to discover more!  What an odd math that exists outside zero-sum thinking.

Giving itself is odd.  Done bliblically, without thought of the repayment circle, it demonstrates that my posessions don't own me, that I am free enough to give, and that the real hopes of my life are not limited by economic circumstances but are themselves a gift of God. 





Pastor Talk To Me About...
2009-11-03 by David Howell

Our wonderful lay people are having some good things to say.

Pastor Talk To Me About





Resources for Sunday!
2009-11-02 by David Howell

We have resources for Proper 27.

Typically we have 60 or more resources per week on this site for each Sunday: Exegetical, Theological, Pastoral, Lesson and the Arts, Homiletical articles on the lectionary texts and much more! Plus outstanding sermons by the world's best preachers! New material is added every day. Less than $1.00 per week! 

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Post-Sermon Reflection; Verb Tense-Good News
2009-11-02 by David von Schlichten

I proclaimed that part of living like the saints we are through baptism is believing that God is "making all things new." Many of us believe that God will make all things new, but Revelation 21:5 teaches that God is making all things new now, in the present. I tried to motivate people to see God at work in our lives today to make things new, including by empowering us to help with the renewing process. You can read the sermon at the Sermon Feedback Cafe.

I did not receive comments on the sermon from parishioners.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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