November 11, 2018
Mark 12:38-44, 1 Kings 17:8-16
Who remembers the television show, Silver Spoons?
It aired in the early to mid-eighties and was about a wealthy business owner that finds out he has a 12-year old son, Ricky. The lifestyle that Ricky learns to become accustom was a major part of the show. I wanted that same lifestyle after watching the show, and in a way, I did have it. I did not need to worry about where food or the necessities of life came from. And quite often, if I wanted something, I would usually get it. This was great as a kid. However, it taught me very little about the value of money. As soon as I turned 16, I got my first job and spent money nearly as quickly as I earned it. I did have a savings account, but it was quite often in need of a little tender loving care. I may not have been completely greedy, but my priorities were not always in the right place.
The values that we learn growing up quite often follow us into adulthood. There is possibility for change. Surrounding ourselves with the right people makes a big difference and at times can require us to step outside of our comfort zone. It is here, that we can learn a lot from Jesus. While quite often we are concerned about the end game, are we going to get into heaven; Jesus is concerned about how we are living our life today.
This morning we are given the story of two widows. First, in 1 Kings, Elijah is instructed by the Lord to find the widow and ask her to provide him with sustenance so that he may continue in his travels. There is a little hesitancy on her part as she just has enough meal and oil to make a loaf of bread for herself and her son as they prepare to die because of the drought.
In our gospel lesson this morning, it is a widow that gives to the offering in the temple. She is not concerned with her appearance or anything of that sort. Her story is a counter to the one of the scribes at the beginning of the lesson. The scribes are more concerned about how they look, that they garner respect from others in the marketplace, and that they have the best seats in the synagogue and at the banquet tables. It is the scribes that take advantage of the widows of their time. It appears that their chief concern is the light that shines on them. The scribes’ greed overshadows any concern that they may possibly have for their neighbors.
So, when we think about greed in our society today, it is nothing new. Greed stems back to the beginning of humanity. Many of our problems today can be rooted in the greed that is fostered within our culture and the lack of care that is shown for the least in society. Our society is only going to be made better when we reach out and help our fellow brothers and sisters when they need it the most. Greed is not healthy, and it strains the very fabric of our beings. It is witnessed throughout society and one popular film I grew up watching is full of greed. That film is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, of course, the older version with Gene Wilder. The children portrayed in the movie are all about the greed: Augustus Gloop cannot get enough chocolate; Violet Beauregarde needs to have a piece of chewing gum because she thinks she is entitled to it; Veruca Salt wants a golden goose and she wants it now; Mike Teavee needs to be in the spotlight. Charlie Bucket is not immune to the greed either as him and Grandpa Joe can’t stop their desire to try the Fizzy Lifting Drinks.
Yet, it is Charlies actions that are like the widow in the gospel lesson that he hands everything back over to Willy Wonka. His family’s future could have been all made if he just took the everlasting gobstopper to Mr. Slugworth!
Jesus is the one that speaks up for the children, widows, and those on the fringes of society. The widow placing her two coins into the offering plate reflects the love that she has for God, because she knows she is loved. It is the same with the widow that is willing to give all she has to Elijah. In their faith, they trust that there will be enough. Shane Claiborne makes the comment in our series we have been using, that “God made enough for everyone’s need, not enough for everyone’s greed.”
We are all here this morning because of our faith. A faith that has been instilled within us from the time we encountered the Holy Trinity in the waters of baptism. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are reassured of new life and every time we encounter communion, we are reminded of Jesus’ saving grace and his love for us. May we remember his generosity as we give freely of ourselves.
Let us pray. God of love, we give thanks for the stories of the widows in our lessons this morning. May their devotion and faith be a foundation for us to build our faith. May our generosity come through the love that we have for you. Amen