Theme: Jesus tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive because he wants us to experience the joy of giving.

Jesus says, “it is more blessed to give than receive.” And that’s not all he says about giving. In fact, Jesus talks about money – and what we do with it – more than he talks about anything else other than the kingdom of God! How God wants us to use money – and our God-given time, our God-given talents and all of our God-given resources -- is a recurring theme throughout the Bible…which means that it is important… and that means we should pay attention!

Jesus says it is more blessed to give than to receive. So how and why do we give and share what God has given to us?

We give out of our abundance.

Sometimes giving is sharing out of our abundance.  I remember the year we planted a whole row of zucchini on the farm – not knowing what it was or how much they would produce!  Talk about abundance! We also did not realize that we were supposed to pick them when they are small. Every day my dad would come into the kitchen grinning with a bushel basket full of zucchini – and the biggest one proudly displayed on top. We gave away a lot of zucchini that year – sometimes disguised as zucchini bread, muffins, or cookies.

Sometimes it is really really fun to give!

For example, I’m guessing that many of you – like me -- bought bags of candy -- more than you could possibly consume yourself – just so that you could give it away to children and youth who came dressed up in costumes to your door?  And in exchange for them saying “Trick or treat” you happily gave them candy and wished them a happy Halloween?

It’s fun to give to children. I remember on Christmas – watching a child opening a gift. It wasn’t a big or expensive or even unique gift. But upon opening the gift, he sighed and said, “Oh… this is what I’ve always wanted!”  It’s heart-warming to give … especially when the gift is received with such joy.

In the Old Testament the gift that was given back to God was designated as a tithe – 10 percent. And many people still use that as a guide. That is likely what the rich people were doing in the Stewardship litany that we will be reading next. They were just doing what was required of them. To those to whom much has been given… much will be required…

But instead of commending them, Jesus points out the widow who entrusted all that she had to God. It doesn’t make any sense economically. But it was a radical gift of the heart. Jesus noticed.

That’s what our scriptures remind us – giving is good for us to do.

That’s why we give back to God and to our church.  Again – it all belongs to God. God has entrusted to us these days and years of life to love and care for one another; God has entrusted to us gifts of health and talents and one another. God has given to us God’s only Son and asked us to share this Good news with others.  

Today we are reminded that we gather here to praise God by making a joyful noise and to share God’s good news. We give of our God-given resources to this church because it is important to us to have musicians to help us make a joyful noise to the Lord. We give because we are glad to be a teaching parish, walking with seminary students on their faith journey. We give because this is the place where we gather to be the people of God – sharing the Good News, loving and serving the neighbor. And so we give – hopefully joyfully – and we are blessed in our giving. Amen.

Now… I mentioned before that giving can be really fun. And I also realized that this is even better, even more fun when I share the opportunity to give.  So… I’ve invited some of our youth to help me give to you.

These boxes are based on the story of : Noah! And in this story, in the ark, God SAVES a remnant of the world.

God sent us a Savior too.  This was the best gift EVER.

So… just to make sure you get this connection, please repeat after me: God gave Jesus. (Repeat). God gave Jesus to Save US. (Repeat)  Jesus is our Life Saver. (Repeat). We can give others this good news (Repeat). God gives abundantly! And so should we! (Repeat).