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Extravagant Gift-Giving

Extravagant Gift-Giving

Have you seen my fabulous earrings? If you saw me in something fabulous, it probably came from my sister, Lydia.

by Stella Burkhalter on September 06, 2023

Have you seen my fabulous earrings? If you saw me in something fabulous, it probably came from my sister, Lydia. She is a stylish dresser, and when I see her, I typically compliment her on something she is wearing. When I do that, she immediately tries to give the thing to me. If it’s earrings, she will take them off on the spot and insist I keep them. Thankfully, she does not do this with clothing, but she will insist I come over so she can give me things out of her closet. It is good to be loved.

Lydia’s habit came from our mother, who would tell of visiting family in Mexico and living by the custom that you should always give things away if someone compliments you on them. My aunt and mother made it a practice not to take their favorite things on the trips so they wouldn’t risk having to give them away to some random cousin. Funny how Lydia is the only one that inherited the practice. I know I didn’t! I confess that I am a little too attached to my stuff.

This week’s sermon is about a woman who practiced this type of extravagant generosity, anointing Jesus with an entire bottle of costly perfume. In this sermon series, we are looking at all the stories in the Bible that took place in the village of Bethany, and this is one of them.

Each week, I am struck by the reminder that there was a group of people with the faithfulness to plant this church and name it Bethany. They had a vision of what this church would be and aspirations for the future. That reminder is a powerful motivator for me, and I hope it is for you, too. I want to live up to their dream.

We pre-planned the “bones” of this sermon series, but I am loving watching these sermons get fleshed out in real life and seeing what the stories mean to us in our present context. When I look around, I see extravagant generosity practiced here, but there’s another component to the story: the woman had to face being criticized, talked about, and ridiculed for her faith. I have preached on this passage many times, but this time, I am drawn to that second component of the story.

Thankfully, this week, we get to have communion, so I know my sermon will end with an invitation to the table, an invitation to connect deeply with the one who knows our hurts and paid the ultimate price for us. Now THAT’s generosity. Come enjoy it with me.

Tags: gift, extravagant

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