Countdown to Christmas: Give

By Rev. Sarah B. Miller
Senior Pastor, Tuskawilla UMC
Casselberry, Florida

First, read Luke 6:38-39

Many families have a tradition of baking special sweet treats during the Advent and Christmas season. My best friend Becky is a fabulous baker throughout the year and she does not hold anything back during the holidays!

She is very detail oriented with her baking, as many of her recipes are family recipes passed down through the generations, mothers teaching daughters with a bowl in one hand and a mixing spoon in the other.

Several of Becky’s recipes call for brown sugar as a primary ingredient. (I do not know many of the other ingredients because – Ssssshhhhh! They are a secret!) Becky taught me early on that when measuring brown sugar for baking, the brown sugar must be back tightly into the measure cup so the correct amount is used. That way the baked treat will be perfectly sweet!

In our Scripture for today, Jesus uses an image from the marketplace in first-century Palestine to describe the generosity we will receive from God.

Imagine a woman grasping the edges of her tunic and drawing it up like a basket for a vendor to pour grain into her lap. She can shake the sides of her tunic to ensure that the grain nestles compactly on the grain beneath it guaranteeing she receives the amount for which she paid. “The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return,” Jesus says (Lk 6:39b).

Jesus’ teaching, however, is not an observation about fair practices in the transactional marketplace. Jesus’ teaching is meant to guide and ground our relationships with God and others.

Jesus’ teaching reveals that the standard of our relationships with others – how we are generous, caring, respectful, forgiving, accountable, and loving – will be the standard God uses in relationship with us. The response we receive from God is predicated on how we treat our neighbors. 

Jesus says that we will not only receive, but that the good portion will be “overflowing” into our laps (Lk 6:39a).

So give. Give sweetly. Give abundantly. Pack it all in, and Jesus assures that we will receive more besides.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1. Consider your recent “giving” to your neighbors; if you had to describe it in one word, what would that word be and why?

2. Recall a time when someone went above and beyond to give to you and share that story with someone.

3. How might you and your family work together in “giving” to someone before we celebrate Christ’s birth?