NL: The Greatest Commandment and the Widow’s Mite: Mark 12:28-44 (March 22, 2020/Fourth Sunday of Lent)

Note: This passage raises questions about what Jesus means by noting the widow’s contribution. It is not clear whether he is commending her, condemning the authorities and/or both. We serve a congregation where we have many people living on fixed incomes in homes that are already paid for and who have very little, if any, “expendable” income, so caution and prayer are in order!  For a discussion of the pitfalls of the passage, see devouring the widows as primary to understanding “the widow’s mite”

all to Worship:

Come let us love the Lord!

Let us Love the God with all of our heart, soul and mind

Come Let us love one another and love God!

Let us praise God!



From Working Preacher from the NL perspective:

Includes addressing the horizontal/neighbor dimension as the necessary corollary to the vertical/Godward directive to love God and the widow’s mite as admirable due to her motivation.

Includes which notes this is (for a change) a friendly scribe. Only addresses vv. 28-34. also addresses only vv.28-34 from the perspective of a communal (rather than individual) identity.

Includes, which notes that widow’s mite is tied to what comes before and, in addition to being about giving one’s all, it exposed the religious leaders for their hypocrisy. And, it may just expose us all! Podcast: If you can’t remember all the commandments, can you at least do two?  Simple—but not easy. vv. 28-34 Podcast addressing the status of the poor widow and the most vulnerable and her living out the loving of neighbor of the great commandment in the context of the temple & Jesus’ interactions with the religious leaders of the day. vv. 35-44.

Other exegetical resources Catholic resource addressing love beyond formalism, love at the heart of our perfection. This sermon includes an illustration and a poem; only addresses vv. 28-34. Sermon addressing loving God in the different ways of the passage (only vv. 28-34). What keeps you from loving your neighbor? Busyness? Not wanting to see need? Uses Bob Dylan’s quote:  “May you always do for others and let others do for you” and has a story illustrating letting others do for you.  “Serving while living with disabilities” Every person is called to serve as they are able. Everybody belongs. Everybody serves. Addresses vv. 35-44. Pastor’s Bible study addressing the synoptic versions of the Great Commandment. Addresses vv. 28-34. Sermon series on loving God and loving neighbor.

Liturgical Resources  Reader’s theater version of Mark 12:28-34

Here’s the link to my bulletin!AuB3z496aTHTgcEOBjQ3Twy3sqAMzQ

Prayer Reflection: Mark 12: 28-34

“Love the Lord, your God
with all your heart
with all your soul
and with all
your mind.”

let this be.
Show us how.

“And love your neighbor as yourself.”

let this be
Take us where
we surely need to go.

your love be
the lens that lets us see,
the power that enlivens our lives,
light that points to the path,
and the very grace
that saves

Kindly fill us with your love.

— A. Osdieck. Copyright © 2011, The Center for Liturgy at Saint Louis University. Visit that site for other lectionary-based prayers.

Benediction: The Lord is One

Here’s a closing commission and benediction based on Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Matthew 12:28-34.  It was written by Nathan Nettleton.

Commission & Benediction

(inspired by Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Matthew 12:28-34)

Hear this: the Lord our God is the one and only Lord.
Therefore go out into the world
and love the Lord your God
with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,
and love others as you love yourself.

And may God give you justice and freedom;
May Christ Jesus set you free for love;
and may the Holy Spirit go where you go
……..and protect you on your way.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
In the name of Christ. Amen.

~ Copyright © 2000 Nathan Nettleton

Children’s message (includes hymn & prayer of confession, see below)

Sing one song with which to love God and one about loving each other.  Introduce each identifying its purpose.  Two possibilities:

“For the Beauty of the Earth” for loving God

“Lord Help Us Accept Each Other” for loving each other

>  Base the Prayer of Confession on the two great commandments.  As you do, remember that children respond more to specifics than to generalities.  So you may want to name the currently “in” sport rather than simply “our sports.”  Read the commandments just before the congregation prays as follows

Lord God, we know that you are ONE and that you are the center of the whole universe

but we treat all sorts of things as if

they were more important than the one true God.

We say we give our hearts to you

but often our hearts are more devoted to

what we wear, to our sports, and to our friends.

We pour out our souls to you when we need you

but not when life is smooth and easy.

We mean to love you with all our minds

but our minds stray to what we want

and what others are saying.

We are more likely to use our strength to get what we need and want

than to get what you want for us and those around us.

We love the neighbors we choose to love

and only when they love us back.

Forgive us.  Write your commands on our hearts and souls and in our minds.  Work it into our muscles so that we may truly be your people.

We pray in the name of Jesus who poured out his heart and soul and mind and strength for us and forgives us when we turn on him.  Amen.


Christ is made the sure foundation   ELW 645, H82 518, NCH 400, UMH 559
Blessing and Honor   ELW 854

A new source I just found for contemporary Christian songs that includes the NL passages can be found at:;%20Psalm%2089:1-4%7D

For this pericope, they list:

No Other Gods

By David Moffitt. As performed by ZOE Group.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:28-34
Related to tags(s): Reign (via Mark 12:36);

Love the Lord

By Lincoln Brewster.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:30; Mark 12:33
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);

Hear Our Song

By Jadon Lavik, Marc Byrd, et al.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:1-2

Pour My Love On You

By Dan Dean, Gary Sadler.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:1
Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);

Sing Of Your Great Love

By Darlene Zschech.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:1
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);

Look To You

By Marty Sampson.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:32
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);

While We Still Have Time

By Ted Wortham, Cynthia Biggs. As performed by Cindy & Roy.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:38
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);

You Are The One

By Keith Green, Melody Green-Sievright.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:2
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);

More Love More Power

By Jude Del Hierro.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:30
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);

I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever

By Martin Smith. As performed by Delirious?, SONICFLOOd, Encounter Worship Band.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:1
Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30);

You Are Mine

By Brad Avery, David Carr, et al. As performed by Third Day.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30); Love (via Mark 12:30);

Come Now is the Time to Worship

By Brian Doerksen.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:30

Beautiful Saviour

By Stuart Townend.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:1

Winter Snow

By Audrey Assad.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:33

Back where i belong

As performed by Life Worship.

Related to verse(s): Psalm 89:4

To Know Your Name

By Matt Crocker. As performed by Hillsong.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1); Love (via Mark 12:30); Name of Jesus (via Mark 12:35);

Concrete Castle King

By Lloyd Oliver Willis Sr.. As performed by Dennis Brown.

Related to verse(s): Mark 12:38

No Greater Love

By Audrey Assad, Chris Tomlin, et al.

Related to tags(s): Poverty (via Mark 12:41); Love (via Mark 12:30); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);

Kings & Queens

By Chuck Butler, Joel Parisien, et al. As performed by Audio Adrenaline.

Related to tags(s): Poverty (via Mark 12:41); Social Justice (via Mark 12:31; Mark 12:40); Love (via Mark 12:30);

If We Are The Body

By Mark Hall.

Related to tags(s): Social Justice (via Mark 12:31; Mark 12:40); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1); Love (via Mark 12:30);

Compassion Hymn

By Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, et al.

Related to tags(s): Social Justice (via Mark 12:31; Mark 12:40); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);

God Of Justice

By Tim Hughes.

Related to tags(s): Social Justice (via Mark 12:31; Mark 12:40); Poverty (via Mark 12:41); Justice (via Mark 12:31);

The Lost are Found

By Ben Fielding, Sam Knock.

Related to tags(s): Social Justice (via Mark 12:31; Mark 12:40); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1); Justice (via Mark 12:31);

One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails)

By Brian Johnson, Christa Black, et al. As performed by Kristian Stanfill, Jesus Culture, Bethel Live.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30);

Lead Me

By Chris Rohman, Jason Ingram, et al.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);

The Power Of The Cross

By Keith Getty, Stuart Townend.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);


By Vicky Beeching.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);

Oh, Great Love Of God

By David Crowder, Mark Waldrop, et al. As performed by David Crowder Band.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);

My Hope

By Edward Mote, Matt Redman, et al.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Name of Jesus (via Mark 12:35);

This Is How We Know

By Beth Redman, Matt Redman.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);

Ancient Skies

By Michael Gungor, Michael Rossback. As performed by Gungor.

Related to tags(s): Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1);

I Will Go

By Allen Salmon, Jon Neufeld, et al. As performed by Starfield.

Related to tags(s): Social Justice (via Mark 12:31; Mark 12:40); Poverty (via Mark 12:41);

Rock Of Ages You Will Stand

By Brenton Brown, Paul Baloche.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30);

Micah 6:8

By Charlie Hall.

Related to tags(s): Justice (via Mark 12:31); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1); Witness (via Mark 12:33);

Jesus You Are Worthy

By Brenton Brown, Don Williams.

Related to tags(s): Mercy (via Psalm 89:1); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);

Jesus Messiah

By Chris Tomlin, Daniel Carson, et al.

Related to tags(s): Messiah (via Mark 12:36); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);

How Beautiful

By Twila Paris.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);


By Brad Avery, David Carr, et al.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);

I Will Always Love Your Name

By Paul Oakley.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);


By Martin Smith.

Related to tags(s): Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30); Love (via Mark 12:30);

There Is A Redeemer

By Melody Green-Sievright.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Messiah (via Mark 12:36);

How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

By Stuart Townend. As performed by Instrumental Worship.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);

Good To Me

By Craig Musseau.

Related to tags(s): Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1);

You Never Let Go

By Beth Redman, Matt Redman.

Related to tags(s): Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30); Love (via Mark 12:30);


By Brenton Brown, Paul Baloche.

Related to tags(s): Judgment (via Mark 12:40); Kingdom (via Psalm 89:4); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1);


By Chris Tomlin. As performed by Encounter Worship Band, Robin Mark.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30);

Amazing Love

By Graham Kendrick.

Related to tags(s): Love (via Mark 12:30); Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42);

You Are Good

By Israel Houghton.

Related to tags(s): Faithfulness (via Psalm 89:1; Mark 12:30); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1);

Sweetly Broken

By Jeremy Riddle.

Related to tags(s): Justice (via Mark 12:31); Mercy (via Psalm 89:1); Love (via Mark 12:30);

You Bled

By Rend Collective Experiment.

Related to tags(s): Sacrifice (via Mark 12:33; Mark 12:42); Love (via Mark 12:30);Image result for Sacrifice of love

Parable of the Tenants Lent Seeds of Prayer, Narrative Lectionary

Mark 12:1-12 [13-17]

Psalm 86: 8-13

Image result for God is always on time

Call to Worship

Lord you call to all people to serve

From the tiny babies, to the last minute workers

You welcome all into the kingdom

Let us praise God!

Prayer of Confession: Lord we confess that we do not understand your upsidedown world of grace. How can you let everyone in? How can we let everyone in? Help us to give you the power and the glory forever we pray.

Prayer of Confession: Lord please stoop down and whisper in my ear, for I confess I am needy, be gracious to me. I am crying for you all the day long, listen to my prayer. Comfort me I pray.

Prayer of Confession: Lord, my heart is divided. Reverence of you is out of reach. I have forgotten your ways. Teach me so I might walk in your truth I pray.

Assurance of Pardon: The Lord is good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call out to God. We can know the good news In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of Dedication/Prayer of the Day: Lord please gladden the soul of your servant. I lift up my soul. In the day of trouble I call on you, for you will answer. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth. Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.

Communion Prayer: Lord, you stooped kneeling into the fully human Jesus, as Christ himself, speaking our language, eating our food, teaching our children. And when the world seemed to be ending and Jesus was betrayed and again when he ascended into heaven he promised to send his Holy Spirit to be present among us, blessing us, inspiring us and encouraging us. Send that Holy Spirit here today so we can taste and see your way we pray. Amen

With Children: Play Mother May I (Let everyone win), Have a Feast/Party: Let everyone take part in waves, Do a puzzle note how it doesn’t matter what order the pieces come as long as they are all there; or create a puzzle or color different pieces of the same picture and put them together

Hymns: Jesus the Very Thought of Thee, Come Down O Love Divine, Open My Eyes that I May See, Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine, Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, If I Had a Thousand Tongues to Sing

For more Lent Resources on Mark

RCL: All My Mites

It is election time in the United States, and I have been thinking about this text–Mark 12:38-44 all week, before even I was conscious that it was the lectionary.

I will start by admitting that I didn’t remember that those in political & religious power are devouring widows. I remembered thew widow giving her all, but I didn’t remember that it was in such sharp contrast to those in power.

My gaff makes sense, however, because too often we forget that Christianity is not about power. Or rather, that Jesus Christ is all about empowering those who have none. Thus being in power and being Christian is tricky at best.

As a Presbyterian in the United States this is a hard pill for my particular denomination to swallow. We used to be the power brokers in the US, we are the Catholics in Rome, we have our Reverend Witherspoons and our Aaron Burrs.

I think about this often because, in my context, my denomination has the least amount of money it has ever had. And its panicking all levels from the local church to the national governance. We are spending down our reserves as less and less money is coming in and membership is “declining.”

I think Jesus Christ is telling this story not only to point out the differences in power, and to remind us who it is we should be standing by. But I also firmly believe that Jesus tells this story because its true. Those who are the closest to being poor given the most to those in need. Those who are in the most precarious place, tend to practice their faith closer to the church and in a quieter manner than those with money and power and prestige.

And I’m convinced that those who have experienced poverty give the most because they understand what it means to have nothing, and that they, we, appreciate what they have more. I say we because I have experienced the grief of poverty and debt, and as I rise in prestige, power and money I hope that I never forget what its like to pick which bill you aren’t going to pay this month, to scrape together all the change in the house to send your child the money for a school activity, to carefully put all the baby food and milk back in the fridge to be used later.

But our God is a God of abundance, as is evident of 1 Kings 17:8-16. I have seen God make something out of nothing multiple times. I have had it so that the thing that was going to break my bank was miraculously paid for by someone else. I have received timely gifts of items we have desperately needed, that the person didn’t know we needed, but somehow the winter coat came just after the zipper from the old one broke, that a free day of play at a kids entertainment center appeared right when we couldn’t afford to do anything but the kids desperately needed to get out. I’ve seen politics and power at its worse and but I have also  seen how Medicaid and Therapy Care provided by the state of New York has saved our sanity and provided the structure our son with autism, and really our entire family desperately needed. And though the structure that comes through is the government, I cannot help but believe that these gifts came through my trust in God. Because the reason are in New York in the first place, in an epicenter for autistic care, is because I came here to serve a church. We thought we were just coming here to serve God, but of course, God called us here to help us.

I give to God not because God needs my money and my goods, but because God can increase them tenfold. I give to God because God can do way more with my stuff and talents than I could ever imagine.

Both widows have little

Both widows give

Both widows experience miracles.

Psalm 146 puts it well, I do not trust in the power and principalities of the world–as Nadia Bolz-Weber notes they are but footnotes in the story of Jesus, because God is the true power. So when I pray, when I trust, it’s God.

Because I want my God to be the one who executes justice. That’s who I want to worship and that’s who I want my God to be. I want a God who wants me to feed the hungry and set prisoners free, the one who opens the eyes of the blind and lifts up the burdened.

I want the God who teaches be me love the righteous, watch over the strangers/immigrants, and to uphold the orphan and the widow.

I want to know this God, and in knowing this God I want to be able to do this work.

Because I want to love God with all my heart

all my soul

and all my mites.

Thanks be to God

Katy Stenta is a solo pastor at a tiny church that is bigger on the inside in Albany, NY for over eight years and blogs at When she is not dreaming up projects and ideas, some of which creep into the church, she plays with her three boys-boys or goes and visits her husband at the library, while he works, to read.

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#confession #change #race & #Birth pangs

God of hope, we confess that we are frightened by so many things. We do not like birth pangs of change. Yet we confess the world is not as it should be. Justice is often put off, because changing the way things are structured is hard. Youth is discounted, racial tension is ignored, the patterns of overwork are lauded and certain groups in perpetual need are accepted as normal. Its difficult to be the church sometimes, Lord. It is hard to sound the call on what needs to be changed. Give us the courage and conviction to work towards change, especially when it seems impossible. For we never know when your kingdom will come, but we do know that its already on the way. Help us to do this we pray….

A True Story

A teacher and a nurse are left with a faltering church. The teacher is practical and into appearances and the nurse is into rule following and order. Both women help to run the church for 40+ years. In all probability should either of them not have been there the church probably no longer exists.

Neither woman likes the other (in fact there are rumors of the women’s mother’s hating each other), but they are there the two pillars of the church. In walks a policeman. The policeman is new, and yet he gets to irritate both the teacher and the nurse. The teacher hates how he wants to lay out everything in rules, the nurse hates that the policeman likes to always be right.

A new pastor walks in and insists that God wants all these people to be a church.

The people all wrangle, manipulate, yell and complain.

But the pastor says that God put everyone in this church for a reason.

Much more goggosomen,grumblings murmuring and mutterings occured (See John 6:35-51 about goggosomen)

Then the pastor insisted that the church continue to be a church

Then an argument broke out, it might have been between the policeman and the teacher, or the teacher and the nurse or any combination of said participants.

Words were said, aggression became passive for some and active for others.

And in the end the pastor looked at her scripture, threw out her sermon and preached on the Golden Rule in light of the fight that had taken place not ten min before service.

Jesus commands us to love God, anyone who has loved a person with depression, addiction or bad days knows that love is hard work. Happily Ever After is just the beginning of the commitment.

That is what we are doing here as a church–we are vowing to be together forever, to love no matter what and to work on our relationships.

Who here doesn’t have relationships they need to work on? Church is a place to work on those through the empowering and life-changing love that is personified in Jesus Christ.

And every Sunday, every time we gather, whenever two or three gather in Christ’s name–the tone should be that of a wedding, for we are renewing and living out our vow…

The story doesn’t end happily ever after–because the church is too busy, too busy renewing their vows, working together and attempting to love one another no matter what.

Because whether or not the church needs us, or whether or not the God needs us…

The church wants us, and God wants us….God wants to love us, God wants us to reflect that love unto the world so that our entire being is changing…..

And that is something the pastor will avow to till the end of her time!


(funny thing, all these professions are public sector jobs, note the above comic portrays a teacher, a policeman and a nurse)

Deuteronomy 6:4-94Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.



Mark 12:28-34

28One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

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