Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Copper Coins

Today's sermon was preached by Mary Cat and I thought she did a respectable job on the Gospel lesson, Mark 12:38-44, also known as "The Widow’s Offering."
"As he taught, he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 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.’"

Mary Cat showed her example of the "mite" offering. Two mites might be misheard as in the following cartoon,

The anthem for today was "Tu Pauperum" by Josquin, and the English translation of the words fit the scripture quite well.
"Thou art the refuge of the destitute/poor,
Alleviator of all weakness, hope of the exiled,
strength of the heavy laden, path for the erring,
Truth and life.
And now, Lord Redeemer,
I take refuge in Thee alone; I worship Thee, the true God.
In Thee I hope, in Thee I trust, My salvation, Jesus Christ, uphold me, that my soul may never sleep in death."

I found a nice interpretation by John Lienhard of the University of Houston who, in putting in his two cents worth, wrote,
"My favorite among Josquin Des Prez's motets is an odd piece, Tu Pauperum Refugium -- Thou art the Refuge of the Poor. It begins with soul-settling chords. Then it moves off into the complex polyphony Josquin so perfected 500 years ago.

The text recites the attributes of God -- 'alleviator of weakness, hope of the exiled.' But when Josquin reaches the line, 'path for the erring,' a strange thing happens. The grand order of the music seems to break down. The countertenor line stumbles about like a man lost in the woods. Where is it going?

Josquin had the mind of a linguist. His music is rich in word games and subtle text settings. What he does here is to teach us all a lesson about the word error.

It's from the same root as errant, which means embarked on a searching journey. Five hundred years ago, the two meanings were closer together. A person in error was a person searching for the truth. So Josquin's errant countertenors search for order."

Two mites = One penny.
Eternal life = Priceless.


  1. I'm afraid I'm reminded of that widow every Sunday during the offertory. Why do we not trust God enough to give from our abundance?


  2. When the plate comes by in the Episcopal church we should be reminded that some of our money goes to suing faithful Christians and also to fund pro-abortion groups.