Year B Proper 27 Mark 12
The Widow's Mite
Mark 12:38-44

There was a man who called at the church and asked if he could speak to the Head Hog at the trough. The secretary said, “Who?” Then she gathered herself and said “Sir, if you mean our pastor you will have to treat him with a little more respect than that and ask for the ‘Reverend’ or 'The Pastor.' But certainly you cannot refer to him as the Head Hog at the Trough.” The man said, "I understand. I was calling because I have $10,000 I was thinking about donating to the building fund.” She said, "Hold on for just a moment—I think the big pig just walked in the door."

Now I am sure the secretary wouldn't treat me like that, some of the laity perhaps but not the secretary! But we all are subject to changing our tune when money is suddenly involved. That is why this passage of Scripture has been an enduring image throughout the ages. We play favorites. We treat those who give more as if they are the pillars on which the church is erected.

But consider with me another image. Jesus, sitting opposite the place where the offerings were put, is observing the people make their donations as they come into the temple. He is not alone. Seated with him are the leaders—the Sadducees. It is startling to think of Jesus sitting with those whom he had scorned for their hypocrisy. Remember that as they watch there is no paper money, so all of the offerings make a terrible noise as they roll down this long horn shaped object and fall into the pool of coins. And here comes this little old lady and she has two small coins worth nothing and drops them in. They barely make a noise. You can almost see the Temple leaders as they roll their eyes and hope for better results with the next person who walks in the door. Jesus then calls his Disciples over and says, “This poor widow has put more in to the treasury than all the others.” To the Sadducees this woman is a waste of time, but to Jesus she is the stuff by which Kingdoms are erected. Thus, at its heart, the story of the widow's mite is a strong reminder to the kingdoms of this world...

  1. That the Kingdom of God is built by the widow as well as the wealthy.
  2. That the Kingdom of God recognizes the level of sacrifice.
  3. That the Kingdom of God warns us about pride.

Show and Sell or Show and Tell?
Hebrews 9:24-28

When I was growing up, anything "modern" was good. Whatever the fab fad was, if it came wrapped in the "modern" packaging, we convinced ourselves that it was for the better.

We even convinced ourselves this was true about "modern food."

Astronaut ice cream. [remember that?]
Tang [another astronaut drink]

But my favorite "modern" food was Jiffy Pop.

If you're too young to remember Jiffy Pop, it is just popcorn packed into a flat aluminum "frying pan" and sealed with a light, thin foil covering. The frying pan was put over a hot burner and as the popcorn inside heated up and hot air was generated, the thin foil-covering puffed up into a big, shiny balloon. To eat the popcorn, you punctured the balloon and peeled the tin foil back, revealing the steamy popcorn. [If you can demonstrate/animate this with a hot plate and Jiffy Pop, all the better. Then you’ll also have the smell of popcorn throughout the sanctuary while you preach and refer to Jiffy Pop.] Once microwave popcorn hit store shelves, Jiffy Pop lost its popularity. Hunters and hikers still find it a fun campfire food. But it was Jiffy Pop that came to mind recently when the "Balloon Boy" hoax took over our television sets for the greater part of daytime news. The experimental silver Mylar "balloon" that was feared to hold the six year old boy Falcon looked a whole lot like a giant container of Jiffy Pop.

Like Jiffy Pop, the report of a missing boy was full of nothing but hot air. Like Jiffy Pop, which you eat at a show, the whole drama was show food. When the “balloon boy” scare was popped and the Mylar peeled back, what was finally revealed? Nothing but hot air. Nothing but a huge hoax. It was the local sheriff who summed up the fiasco. When asked to explain the wasted money and man-hours spent looking for the boy, when the parents had set up the whole thing because they were looking for the publicity to get them a reality tv show, the sheriff sighed: "They put on a good show for us, and we bought it."

But it was the little boy himself who outed his parents, and let the truth slip out. On live tv, Falcon Heene was asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer why he hid from everyone when they were searching for him. The little boy swallowed hard, looked into the camera and said, "We did it for the show."

It took a little child to tell the truth. Or to bring the sheriff's words and the child's words together, the whole episode was an example of . . . Show and Sell... presents Leonard Sweet