Remembrance Day Sermon
Remembrance Sunday Sermon
November 11th, 2018
“For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Now I don’t know about you but I find that we are a culture that puts probably far too much of an emphasis on the question of worth. We’re always asking the question of what something or someone is worth.
Is it worthour time? Is it worth our effort to do such and such a thing. We worry about the value or the worth of our pensions, our health plans. We feel shorted if we don’t feel like we’re getting our money’s worthout of something we buy. We can even ask the question of someone – what are you worth?As if their stock portfolio defines who they are as an individual.
Dr. Charles Mayo of the famous Mayo clinic was the first to ask that question about the human body – what is the human body worth? That is, if you broke a human body down to the quantities of its base elements – things like iron, and zinc, calcium, sulphur, and potassium – how much in raw material would you have? If you could cart that all down to the recycle centre, how much would they give you?
Four dollars and sixty-five cents USD. That’s it.
Now thankfully Dr. Mayo asked this question tongue-in-cheek, he wasn’t implying this was our true worth, merely our trade-in value at the bottle depot.
But in a world where worthis such an important question, and on such a day as this, a day when we remember so many who served selflessly, and so many who gave their lives for others – lives that are worth so much in the eyes of God that he would send his Son to die for them, it is poignant that we hear in the Gospel today a story that has worthat its very core.
Jesus is teaching his disciples an important lesson about humility by talking of the scribes, scholarly types whose job it was to interpret the laws of the scriptures to the people. Jesus’ criticism of them throughout the Gospel comes from the fact that the religion they taught was superficial – it was about being seento be religious and pious more than it was
about beingpious. The picture he paints here is that they are the types who walk with their heads held high, who sit at the most honoured seats. The type of people who want you to see them enjoying all the benefits of being a scribe.
He carries on this lesson by showing the disciples what is essentially the offering plate at the temple – they watch from afar as people go up to drop their offering in, seeing that the rich drop in large of sums of money. But the real pinnacle of the story is when the poor widow, perhaps one of the ones whose house had been devoured by the scribe, comes forward and puts in two small copper coins.
Now this is of course a paltry offering compared to the rich who put in vastly greater sums, but that’s not the point of Jesus’ teaching, is it? Giving large sums of money is certainly a noble thing, but if all we care about is worth, if all we can ascribe to people and their gifts is valuethan we would look at the widow’s offering of two small coins as almost offensive. But Jesus’ point is exactly that when we push past worth, when we look deeper at these two individuals we see that one gave a portion of all they had while the other sacrificed everything – their last two pennies, Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."
Such dedication and selflessness as the widow’s is the point of Jesus’ lesson. He was not teaching his disciples to give a lotor give their best – give what you can but make sure you have a little extra for pizza on Friday night. He is teaching those disciples and us, his disciples, that we are called to give all. Throughout the Scriptures Jesus makes this demand in different ways. Elsewhere in Mark’s Gospel Jesus commands says to sell everything they have and give it to the poor, while in Luke’s Gospel Jesus says that, “any one of you who does not give up everything he owns cannot be my disciple”
We see this remarkable call being lived out in his disciples, many of whom left their families and their livelihoods – their jobs and even their very boats and nets – to follow him. In the book of acts we get a window into the lives of the early Christians who, “sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need…and from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
Jesus’ call to give all certainly has some implications for our financial and material lives – the way we relate to our stuff, but more importantly we must be concerned about the state of our hearts. We can give materially, yes, but what about what’s inside of you? Are we willing to give all that we areto God – all of our heart and soul, all our mind and our strength? Are we willing to give up our lives – whatever that might mean for us – for the one who gave up hislife for us?
On this most Solemn day we gather together to hear a story about worth. A story about a woman who in humility and in poverty gave all that she had. We gather together here and at services and cenotaphs later on this morning to remember those who, in the service of their country and their fellow brothers and sisters, likewise gave all that they had, many even giving up their very lives for another.
This story of the widow, and this Remembrance Day is a lesson for us and a reminder that God likewise calls each of us to give up all that we have and all that we are for Him.
Today we give thanks to God for the example of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the love and service of others, and who are now at rest and peace. May their example of love and sacrifice be for us a reminder that just as Jesus gave his life for us God calls each of us to give all that we are and all that we have in the love and service of Him and of our neighbour.