John told them, “If you have two coats, give one away to someone who doesn’t have any.” – Luke 3:11 (CEV)
This scripture sure seems to be about material goods—a call to live simply and generously by giving away excess “stuff” to people in need. It reminds me of the UCC Book of Worship communion prayer that describes “the vision of the day when sharing by all means scarcity for none.”
Sometimes as we pray these words before the eucharist, I think of Luke 3:11 and say, “I should go through my closet and give away my extra coats.”
Over time, I’ve experienced this prayer as a call to mutual ministry with others—something much deeper than giving away extra things. Depending on the day or the thing that’s being shared, I may have extra or I could be in need. Some days we have extra love, compassion, space for prayer and deep faith. Other days, we might need a little extra love or compassion, prayer or faith.
Recently my children and I went out for dinner. It was a long day, and they were on my last nerve. Just as I was losing patience with them, our server arrived to take our order. The kids continued to act up, and she remained calm. She turned to take my dinner order and said, “What can I get you?” I said, “I need your patience.” She smiled long enough for me to catch my breath. She had extra serenity and without thinking about it shared that with me.
God, help me to be generous both with giving and with receiving the things that I and others might need today. Amen.