Palm Sunday is a great day in church. Kids march in waving palm branches while we sing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor.” More palms wait in vases up front, and we’re all ready to shout a joyful “Hosanna.” We sing, and we shout, and we have a wonderful morning as we begin Holy Week. But today we’re not in church.
One night in November of 1983, my church youth group met at our leaders’ house to watch a TV movie. Normally we met at the church, of course; but in those days you couldn’t necessarily watch a TV movie at the church, and I think our leaders wanted us in a more comfortable environment, because the movie was going to be pretty troubling.
When we hear the story of the widow’s mite, that’s usually a sign that it’s stewardship season. A stewardship sermon would hold her up as a model of sacrificial giving, and urge us to give similarly. But as is the case with most passages of Scripture, if we expand the reading beyond the four verses that contain the story, the picture looks a whole lot different.
When I was in seminary, the Christian church in Coffeyville gave me a small scholarship. That was the church where my grandparents went, and served as deacons and on search committees, where my parents were married, where my aunts and uncle and cousin grew up. In return, the church folks asked me to come and preach for them.