Every week we take an offering during the worship service.

As you know, the ushers walk up and down the aisles and pass the offering plate down each and every row. People place their offerings to God in the plate. When they have finished passing the offering plate, it may look like this one that I have with me this morning. Here is a twenty dollar bill, and a ten. Here is a five and there are a lot of one dollar bills. Down in the bottom of the plate there are even some coins, Look, someone even put in some pennies. Who do you think gave the most? Was it the person who put in the twenty dollar bill? The ten? The five? We can be sure it wasn't the one who put in the pennies, can't we? One day, Jesus went to the synagogue. He sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the people as they put their money in the treasury. Many of them were very rich and put in large sums of money. A poor widow came by and put in two small copper coins which were worth a penny. Jesus called is disciples to him and said to them, "This poor widow has put in more than all those who are giving to the treasury. They gave out of their wealth, but she gave all that she had." I heard a story about a little boy who went into a church one Sunday morning to get out of the cold. He had been trying to sell newspapers, but not a single customer had passed by. He entered the church, hoping to pass an hour unnoticed on the back row. The preacher delivered a powerful sermon about Jesus and his love for us. At the end of the service, they took an offering. The ushers went from row to row until, finally, one came near to the little newspaper boy. He stopped right in front of the little boy and held out the offering plate. The boy stared at the offering plate, and after a long pause, he asked the usher to place the offering plate on the floor. Then the little boy did something very unusual. He stepped into the offering plate -- first one foot and then the other. He slowly looked up with tears streaming down his cheeks and said, “Mister, I don’t have any money; I haven’t sold a single newspaper today, but if Jesus did all that preacher said he did just for me, I will gladly give my life to Him.” I don't know if that story is true, but I do know that God wants us to give him our all -- our hands, our feet, our hearts, our voices, our silver and our gold. Remember these pennies in the offering plate? Maybe they were the greatest gift given after all. Dear Father, like the widow, we desire to give all that we have to you. For all that we have comes from you. Amen.

but he entered into heaven itself. has borne him.” 5She said to her. who is more to you than seven sons.” 16Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom. “All that you tell me I will do. 2Now here is our kinsman Boaz. 25Nor was it to offer himself again and again. so that it may be well with you. as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own. he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 14Then the women said to Naomi. 17The women of the neighborhood gave him a name. he became the father of Jesse. “A son has been born to Naomi. now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. and after that the judgment. Hebrews 9:24-28 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands. for your daughter-in-law who loves you. 28so Christ.” 13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. go and uncover his feet and lie down. will appear a second time. a mere copy of the true one. then. and he will tell you what to do. having been offered once to bear the sins of many. 26for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. observe the place where he lies. but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. the LORD made her conceive. But as it is. See. the father of David. but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.Ruth 3:1 . I need to seek some security for you. and she bore a son. with whose young women you have been working. who has not left you this day without next-ofkin.” They named him Obed. 27And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once. and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age. When they came together. and became his nurse. not to deal with sin. and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor. 4When he lies down. 3Now wash and anoint yourself. 4:13-17 Hebrews 9:24-28 Mark 12:38-44 3Naomi her mother-in-law said to her.4:17 Ruth 3:1-5. “My daughter. saying. . “Blessed be the LORD.

“Beware of the scribes. who like to walk around in long robes. “Truly I tell you. this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.Mark 12:38-44 38 As he taught.” . but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had. 44For all of them have contributed out of their abundance. and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins. all she had to live on. which are worth a penny. They will receive the greater condemnation. 43Then he called his disciples and said to them. 39and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers.” 41 He sat down opposite the treasury. he said.

Instead of immersing themselves in worship. “Truly I tell you. they place themselves in the center of the community of faith rather than pointing past themselves toward the Lord God. I found it an interesting paradigm….The Hokey Pokey Mark 12:38-44 Nov 11. which are worth a penny. and he notices a women sitting at the end of a pew. She is there to worship. He looks at the religious leaders of the time and questions the motivation of their religious actions. As I read the gospel for the morning. . who is worthy of worship. but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins. you put your right arm out. When the offering plate passes by her side. and she seems a bit out of place. Many rich people put in large sums. you put your right arm in and shake it all about… you do the Hokey pokey and you turn yourself around… that’s what it’s all about!! Well. all she had to live on. but she faithfully puts all that she has into the plate.2012 Thurs morning story of title I bet you have sung or enjoyed the party dance “the Hokey Pokey” you know… you put your right arm in. and spirit are focused only on God. 43Then he called his disciples and said to them. I did my research and there appears to be great confusion about the origin of the song but it seems to have historic versions with slight variation in English speaking Countries… Finally a band leader in the 1940’s popularized it as a joyful release from war time concerns. and her eyes. they preen and posture. Jesus sat down opposite the treasury. and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury.” Put in twenty-first-century terms. She really does not fit into the affluent congregation in this particular city. out of worship for God. But first to the text: Jesus makes some interesting observations. 44For all of them have contributed out of their abundance. heart.. What is amazing about this woman is that she does not seem to notice that she does not fit in with the crowd around her. this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. Jesus sits down and watches the morning collection plate pass down the aisle. she might have noticed that the plate itself probably cost more than she made all week.

” but in another way. Jesus’ teaching refocuses our attention to what should be important in life.In a world where non. A time set aside for worship is really about stewardship. and worship must involve the giving of ourselves to God. that the most important thing is making a name for ourselves and receiving praise from others. resources and gifts… stewardship of what God has given to us and how we can best put those gifts to use by giving them back to God through worship. it is about us pouring ourselves out before God. Stewardship of time. even those of us in the church. This is why there should never be a worship service where two or more are gathered when voices are not raised to God in praise.profits are competing for our “discretionary cash” the religious community – leaders and participants .need to agree that Giving must be an act of worship. This is why there should not be financial struggles within the ministry of God. This is why all persons should feel welcome inside the church. In the truest form of worship. God does not demand that we give one hundred percent of our earnings back. They were not heathens living lives that directly disobeyed the commandments. But the scribes lost focus and began to find significance in ego filling activities among the people. because the one the church should have been helping is putting everything that she has into an organization that has leaders who “devour widows’ houses. this is a story of worship. but God does show that we should be giving enough back . This is a story that reminds us that the institution and the society can never determine our path of worship. The scribes were not bad people. Worship must be about our total devotion and trust given to God. because the church is not about us. like the widow in Mark’s account did. Emptying ourselves of everything the world has to offer and giving back to God what is rightfully God’s. Too often we allow the riches and treasures of this world to consume our thoughts and actions. The story of the poor widow is in many ways a tragedy. We come to believe. we follow the example of the poor widow by giving our all to God. who has first given everything to us.

Even when there is no monetary value to what we are giving. God knows it is valuable. . Too often we do not see the goodness that God has given to us. we might be finding part of the joy and sharing part of ourselves. and like the scribes. We need to dance the Hokey Pokey of faith… today we might be putting in one arm or one leg… have we “turned ourselves around” have we reoriented ourselves from the commercial world to the Kingdom or God…. The church militant is a term we do not hear very often today. The good news of Jesus Christ is that no matter who we are and no matter what our life situation might be.to God that we become totally dependent on God’s grace. many have put them whole selves in… on the line. our gift of true worship will be seen as very precious in the sight of God. God wants us to “turn ourselves around” God wants the smiles to increase as we dance the final round “I put my whole self in …I put my whole self out… I put my whole self in and I shake myself about… I do the Hokey Pokey and I turn myself around… That’s what life is all about” On this Veterans day. Worship matters – not just for the individual – but for the world God so loved that he sent his only son. but the concept that the church is marching toward the Kingdom and putting themselves “all in” for the message of God’s love to turn lives around is a historic reality. we become a bit self-absorbed. and not our own abilities. Selfless giving happens in many ways and in times of war. We might be afraid to get out on the dance floor – are you God’s wall flower… but the music calls out to us and the community of faith wants the circle to grow larger. and like Jesus’ reaction to the poor widow. we have been given love and grace that we can offer back to God in worship. we know and honor that many men and women have given their all for their country and the protection of their loved ones.