And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”
And he worshiped the Lord there.
Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod. And his mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord give you children by this woman for the petition she asked of the Lord.” So then they would return to their home.
Indeed the Lord visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord. I Samuel 1:24-28, 2:18-21 ESV
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25 ESV
Ebenezer Scrooge was a miser. A miser is a person who has a lot of money, but isn’t willing to spend it on anything. On Christmas Eve two men came to his office to ask for some money to help poor people, but Scrooge wouldn’t give them anything. His clerk, Bob Cratchit, was very poor, and he had a little son who was very sick. But Scrooge wouldn’t use his money to help Bob and his family. Scrooge didn’t even spend money on himself. He just kept working and worrying and piling up money, but his money was no good to him or to anyone else. Only by spending his money would Scrooge be able to get any good out of it.
Hannah gave her son Samuel to God. This would have been very hard for a mother to do, and it was especially hard for Hannah, who had hoped and prayed so long to have a son. Hannah didn’t have any guarantee that God would give her other children, but he did. Once she didn’t have any children, but soon God gave her three more sons and two daughters! This is kind of a picture of the blessing of giving away what is yours so that it can do good for others. Often, some good comes back to people who are unselfish like that, but that isn’t the reason to give. The best reason to give is for the joy of doing good, and because of the good things God has already given you.
Jesus talked about his followers giving up their lives for him. He said the only way to save our life is to give it away. Jesus was talking about being unselfish and giving to others in his Name, but he was also talking about much more than that. Jesus is the one who really gave his life away for our good. He gave his life on the cross so that we could have new life with God. We often think we have to earn what Jesus already earned for us, but we can never possibly do that. God helps us have the faith to know that Jesus has taken care of everything for us. Because of that, we have God’s love overflowing in our lives, a love that helps and gives to other people.
Dear Jesus, thank you for your wonderful love that you gave us when you gave your life on the cross. Help us to trust you and to show your love to others. Amen.
Dickens, Charles A Christmas Carol London: Chapman and Hall, 1843