Sunday, 6 March 2016

Sermon 6 March

What is it Worth?
Mark 12: 28-44

Everything I do – I do it for you…
Anyone who lived through the summer of 1991 will recognise those words… that song.
Sixteen weeks at no.1 a feat never (yet) repeated.
It was a song about love and sacrifice and devotion.
And I have seen it used in worship, especially at this time of year, when the song has been played as a background to the events of Good Friday – everything I do – everything he did – he did it for us.
There is a sense of urgency in this section of Mark’s gospel – spread over the past three weeks as it has been that urgency may escape you; but if you were to read chapters 10 -13 in one go the movement is tangible; the pressure is mounting; the excitement building; the anticipation is palpable: something is about to happen.
Something big.
A teacher asks
Jesus teaches
A widow gives

Today’s reading is only 17 verses; but when I first looked at it I saw at least four different sermons!
Love God; Love others – I have preached on more than one occasion in the past couple of years
Warnings against abuse and pride we hear often enough
And even sacrificial giving; giving your all; giving graciously to God has cropped up in different guises…

I heard a question about this widow and her two little pennies which made me pause awhile…
What if Jesus isn’t simply praising her generosity?
What if his observation is actually linked directly to the previous statement – talking about the Pharisees Jesus said: “they take advantage of widows and rob them of their homes…”
What if it is an indictment of the “rich get richer, poor get poorer” system?
A system where those who were responsible for upholding God’s laws, were so corrupt that they took everything a poor widow had to line their own pockets.
She gives all she has to live on – because that is what the teachers of the law demanded – not what God demanded.

There was a cartoon I saw this week, that I’d seen before; in it there is a man sick in bed and a friend at his bedside saying “don’t worry, it’s God’s will”; the next picture showed God looking puzzled beside a whiteboard – with two things written

1. Create the world 
2.  Give Steve cancer…

It’s that ridiculous! The love of God; the will of God; the grace of God – all are for good.
God does not will or design or give us cancer; or accidents; or catastrophes.
Stuff happens.
Terrible, tragic, dreadful stuff happens.
God does not make it happen; but God is with us every step of the way as we deal with it, live through it.

The fact that even in her impoverished state the widow was expected to continue giving her offering money was totally wrong. The visible giving was valued over the stark reality of life.
God doesn’t want us to suffer or go hungry; and God certainly doesn’t make these things happen.

What does God require of us?
The words of the prophet Micah are as relevant today as they ever where:
Act justly
Live kindly
Follow God

And what are the greatest commandments?
Love the Lord your God withal your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and all your strength
Love your neighbour as you love yourself
Life is complicated enough
The world is full of wicked people, and good people

What the world needs now, is love (sweet love)
Everything I do – I do it for you
The message actually really is that simple.
Love God; love others; love yourself

What is it worth?
Whatever we give – however big or small, is worth everything if we give with all of our heart, mind, soul, strength and do not count the cost.

More valuable than silver or gold – love
Unconditional, beautiful, hopeful love
And that’s priceless


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