Sermons 2006

"The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Proper 27B 2006 Kings 17:8-16; Mark 12:38-44

I just returned very early Saturday morning from Roslyn, the urban retreat Center of the Diocese of Virginia in Richmond. Some of us have been there. It was a retreat of sorts – the agenda was the Commission on Ministry interviews of 6 aspirants who felt called to be accepted by the Bishop of Virginia as postulants for the priesthood.

As an aside, a little explanation of Episcopal technical language here for those who may be unfamiliar with the ordination process of this Church: Aspirants are those persons who present themselves before the Commission on Ministry of the Diocese of Virginia after having been examined by their parish priest and a parish discernment committee and recommended for a consideration by the Commission on Ministry. If the Commission on Ministry agrees with the parish, a positive recommendation is made to the Bishop of Virginia, who almost always accepts our recommendation in these cases, whether yes or no. There are times, as this one, when we say no or not yet, as we did in one instance this time.

In the general run of things, an accepted postulant is then sent to Seminary usually for the full three years, altho in special cases of previous seminary training we may recommend an adjustment to one or two years. Postulants belong to the Bishop and have only a loose membership in their home parish. The next step is a Commission interview and subsequent recommendation for candidacy for ordination to the transitional diaconate, that is as a deacon, that is, a priest of the third order with limited sacramental function. We will soon have permanent deacons in this diocese, as well. And finally there is the Commission recommendation for ordination to the full priesthood, the second order, up to four years after becoming a postulant. Mind you, the Commission or the Standing Committee has said no on occasion although rarely.

What, you are wondering perhaps, does all this have to do with the Gospel for today the widow and the widow’s mite. Let’s look at it a minute: Jesus is in the Temple, stirring up trouble as usual, dissing the pompous scribes in fancy ecclesiastical clothes and full of pretense and privilege otherwise. They’re going to get him for it, no doubt, as we know.

Jesus tires of his preaching to a hostile crowd and sits down to rest. But he isn’t napping. He’s watching the crowd and what they are doing. Jesus always put a premium on faith translated into action, that what one does is a surer marker of one’s faith than what one says.

In comes the poor widow with her two copper coins and puts them in the box, the origin of our United Thank Offering mite boxes. So he gathered his disciples around him for a teaching moment: “She has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

It was interesting during Friday’s interviews that only one or two of the aspirants had done all they could in personal stewardship. Only two of the six said outright that they tithed, others that they were working toward, and no one that their giving to God’s work and church was sacrificial giving, of which the widow and her two small copper coins -- her all, her everything -- are the classical gospel example. I didn’t tell them that by the time their Seminary years were over, they would understand deeply what it means and how it feels, this all and everything,business.

Two short stories about sacrificial giving. First story: Some Virginia Episcopalians have made visits to our sister Diocese of Christ the King in the Province of the Church of South Africa. From their visit came the story of the singing and dancing during the offertory in one church one Sunday, the joy of a poor people at having something to give and share – I have always been astounded and humbled at the generosity of the poor myself. Some put in eggs or fruit or rice; some chickens and piglets; some money. But when the basket – and obviously it was a large basket to hold things besides money – when the basket came to this woman, she put it down, and stepped into it, and raised her arms in a hallelujah. The symbology was plain: “I have nothing to give but myself, and that I give, my all, my everything, my whole self.”

Second story: There was a strange woman who showed up in an upper middle class church one Sunday with her two small sons. After the service she asked to speak to the pastor. When he sat down with her she handed him $30.56, and explained that this was her tithe. She had been staying in a battered women's shelter for several days, and had just decided to move south—away from her family, her friends, and her abusive husband. But before she went, she wanted to ask for the church to pray for her, and she wanted to give her tithe. The pastor protested and said she should keep the money for herself and her sons. Her response was clear, "You don't understand. Even if I kept that ten percent, I wouldn't have enough money to provide for me and my sons. So I want to give it to God. I trust that God will give me a new life. To show him I trust him, I want to give my money." (1)

The poet Robert Browning once wrote a famous love poem to his wife. We know it as “How do I love thee” from its first line: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

Jesus was not romantic about such things. But he was pretty clear about this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” And “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Sounds like all and everything to me.


1. Bishop Will Willimon, as told in “How do I love thee”, Lectionary Homiletics for Proper 27B 2000.

Wicomico Parish Church
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Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579