Divine Service: Sun-8:00AM & 9:00AM, Mon-7:00PM

Bible Study & Sunday School: Sun-10:45AM

TEXT: MARK 12
Preached by Vicar Kyle Krueger


Honor and shame.  These seem like common threads through out all of History.  And we learn this paradigm, this way of thinking at a young age don’t we?  If a young child wets their pants in school and everyone laughs at them, they feel shame.  If they win an award in a science fair they feel honor.


Teenagers may understand these two feelings the best.  It is an honor and shame social system in High school.  If you don’t party enough or at all, if your not sexy enough or not cool enough, if you don’t wear just the right name brand clothing and shoes, if you don’t hang out in the right crowd you often feel intense shame and are put to shame by others for not living up to these sociological demands. And if you ignore the right people, if have the juiciest gossip you maybe honored for such things.  

TEXT: MARK 12
Preached by Vicar Kyle Krueger

Honor and shame.  These seem like common threads through out all of History.  And we learn this paradigm, this way of thinking at a young age don’t we?  If a young child wets their pants in school and everyone laughs at them, they feel shame.  If they win an award in a science fair they feel honor. 

Teenagers may understand these two feelings the best.  It is an honor and shame social system in High school.  If you don’t party enough or at all, if your not sexy enough or not cool enough, if you don’t wear just the right name brand clothing and shoes, if you don’t hang out in the right crowd you often feel intense shame and are put to shame by others for not living up to these sociological demands. And if you ignore the right people, if have the juiciest gossip you maybe honored for such things.  

As adults honor and shame comes in all shapes and sizes.  From your work life, social life, and family life.  All the times we should put our foot in our months for shameful comments we make towards others trying to gain honor and recognition for ourselves, the shame and sadness that comes from strained marriages, failed marriages and relationships, the shame that may come when a child utters a four letter word that was learned from their parents in a moment of anger.  People hide these things away because of the shame they feel.  We want to strive for honor.  We want the boss to recognize our hard work, to receive that promotion; we want our friends to say, “Wow, now they have it all together, a beautiful family, good marriage, successful career…”      Politicians all around us are trying to receive honor for themselves and shame others by revealing their opponents scandalous deeds.  Honor and shame is the merit system in our society.

The Gospel reading is the familiar story of the widow’s mite.  While most of you expect to hear a sermon on stewardship and giving with this text it is not just about giving and tithing in the Church or should it simply be used to say, “give all you have, even if it’s just a few pennies, so the church can meet the budget for the year or you better pony up the dough for that new organ we need…”  No, this text uses the widows giving of two small and meager coins also to show honor and shame in the Kingdom of God.

Now as one who wears a long robe, for who if some one sees me at Bayshore mall may greet me as the high and honorable “Vicar”, as one who has an honored seat on the chancel here, for one who has been invited into your homes and ate and drank your finest meals and beverages, for one who’s salary is paid in part by widows, for one who leads lengthy prayers in the service this text becomes much more than simply tithing in the Church.  It speaks to both lay and clergy in the way of condemnation and forgiveness, honor and shame in the kingdom of God as Jesus condemns the scribes and honors the widow.

The treasury that the text speaks of, simply put, is the offering plate in the synagogue so people could support the priests and the scribes, it is to support the ongoing religious activity in the synagogues.  Much like our offering here today so Pastor and I receive a salary and pastoral care can continue in this place. 

This temple treasury, however, was not exactly like our physical offering plates today where we can flip the check over, put it in an envelope or fold up the money in such a way that others cannot see what we are giving.  When an offering was placed in the treasury it would have been visible for all to see what was dropped in, and more then that the offering boxes where labeled so everyone would see what exactly you were giving to.  Not like the little boxes we check on our envelopes so others can’t see what we are and are not putting our money towards.  This is how Jesus could watch the events unfolding as He sat opposite the offering box and observed the giving that was going on.

As Jesus sat there with his disciples He began commenting on the amounts that where being given.  The ones dropping in the large sums would have been honored in society for their sizeable offerings of perhaps hundreds or even thousands of dollars in today’s currency, yet Jesus does not notice the big offerings and say to His disciples “Look, now that’s how everyone should be giving to support my Fathers house”.  No Jesus notices a widow coming alone to the temple, perhaps not wishing to mingle with the others in the court of the synagogue, perhaps others seeing her as shamefully following up the wealthy giving their offering, ashamed to have her offering seen, giving two of the smallest currency.  And it is good for us to know that it was not lawful to contribute a less amount to the treasury then this widow had done. 

She gave all she had to live on.  Some scholars have suggested that widows would make a living as housekeepers.  Out of her humble wages she gave two coins not keeping one for herself and dropping one in the treasury so she could take the next day off of work, but deposits both, so she would certainly have to continue in her toil to earn a living.  While most would see shame in this minuscule gift to God, Jesus honored her with his words saying, “Truly, I say to you, this widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

In a world where some view the Church offering as just another “tax” another “surcharge” they have to pay, Jesus words teach us that giving money, the very thing we use to support ourselves and our families is a confession of faith.  Now, understand that Jesus isn’t saying we should write a check for the exact amount we have in out bank accounts so we can’t feed our families, but rather we give our portion out of faith.  We do so because Jesus did not just give a small portion of himself out of His great abundance He surely has.  He gave up all so that He would become the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Jesus takes the world’s shame upon himself as he hangs on the cross, the most shameful and dastardly execution anyone could die. 

We receive the offering in the Divine service after the sermon and before we celebrate the Lords Supper.  In early Christianity the faithful brought offerings of bread and wine, as well as other kinds of food, for the relief of the poor, for the support of the clergy and as symbols of their life of total worship, their self-dedication to the God of creation and their redemption.  From these offerings the loaves and wine needed for the celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar were taken.  The singing of the Offertory reminds us that we are God’s living sacrifices who are about to receive Christ in the supper the one who has “been offered once to bear the sins of many”.  

We feel shame for the sins we have committed and for those sins committed against us.  The widow was being sinned against by the scribes as they would take from the poor and make themselves to be rich and honored by all.  Jesus said that they, the scribes, “will receive the greater condemnation” for their sins against the widow.  It is in the shame of the cross, the bloody and disgusting death of our savior that we receive the highest honor of receiving Christ’s gifts, receiving the forgiveness of sins.  The dark secrets and shameful struggles that we prefer to hide this side of eternity have been paid for by Christ.  The empty tomb bears witness to the shame of Christ’s sacrifice being turned into honor.  Just as Jesus was watching the widow make her offering, so our Father in heaven watched as Christ gave himself on the cross; Offering not silver or gold but His bruised and bloodied body.  This is where our spiritual, our eternal lively hood is grounded. 

The offering is not simply the church trying to pry you away from your hard earned wages.  Rather we recognize that everything we have actually belongs to God goods, fame, child and wife, and that by our offerings we simply return to God what was already properly His.  One could use the picture of loving parents who graciously accept from their child a Christmas gift purchased with the allowance the parents had given them.  Everything we have in this life is rightly our creators and He mercifully makes our transgressions, our burdens, our shames, our sins His own in the incarnate Christ.  Christ claims them as his own burying them in the tomb never to be seen again.  Our conscience, the world and the devil cannot put us to shame for our many mistakes and blunders in this life.   

We give an offering because our savior has been revealed to us so clearly in the scriptures.  The Kingdom of God is not like this world as we have seen in the story of the widow’s mite.  We are not put to shame in the kingdom of God for humble offerings, deceitful acts, for our sins and the sins committed against us, but we receive honor and blessings from our God who came to save us, who continues to invite you into His treasury here at this altar to give to you.  Come to the table, for your shame is no more.  Come, receive Christ’s wealth of mercy and forgiveness even though our giving is meager.  Come, out of your spiritual poverty to Christ’s meal to receive the richness of His grace.