My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Here is what surprised me this past week: three pieces of nearly-stale Valentine’s Day candy… three siblings… and unexpected generosity.
With a fresh infusion of sugar from Valentine’s Day in the house, one could expect the Barnhart kids to be at an all-time high of conflict and hoarding. After all, candy is not a regular treat around our house. So, any and all of it that can be found within the four walls is usually highly-contested and fiercely-defended.
This year the stakes were raised even higher by classroom teachers. Only one of our three kids had a Valentine’s exchange in his class. So, the amount of candy that came into the house was greatly reduced over years past. Scarcity was a real thing.
And, with one kid being the single vector for sugar to enter, one would expect competition to be high. The other two would have to impress upon the one why they would be deserving of some of the cache. “You like me enough because…” “Share with me because…” We were ready for some wild rationalizations to start flying.
But, it didn’t happen.
The sugar-bearing child didn’t play the game. Everytime he was asked if they could split up some of the candy supply, he consented. There was no rationization. There was no need for grand arguments or eloquent speeches. He didn’t even expect anything in return. He simply gave. And, an entire system in our house was turned on its head.
In Luke’s Gospel for this week, Jesus continues his preaching to the great crowd during the Sermon on the Plain. In the middle of this preaching, he reminds everyone to “love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return” (Luke 6:35).
That was the gift of sugar this week. It was the gift given with nothing expected in return. It was generosity poured out like God pours it out on us. It was, better than any Valentine could describe it, what it means to love like a Christian and give like our God.
For once, I gave thanks for sugar.