Giving and Receiving

“It is better to give than receive.” There’s a lot of truth to that. I know that I certainly enjoy giving. When I give, it means I believe I have enough—and something to give. But, the shadow side of thinking of giving as better might be not acknowledging all that we receive. We receive from our Creator, from Jesus who gives unimaginable love to us, and from God’s Holy Spirit, closer than breath. 

Our mission statement as Christ is this:

“We are a diverse people brought together by the grace of God to share with others what we ourselves have received.” We are brought together to share, but that’s all based in the fact that we received first.

We received everything we have to give.

Why then is it so hard for us to receive? Why is it hard to ask for a ride to church or a meal when we’re going through hard times? Why do some of us gathered as church have such trouble admitting that we need help?

We are all supported by incredible nets of support—and those who have the most can be the most oblivious to the many, many people that who are making the good in our lives possible. I think of those who harvested the foods we ate today and those who watched and cared for people through the night. I think of those who drove carefully and those who assembled everything we’re wearing. There are so many “invisible-to-us” people supporting us every moment. Waking up to their presence in our lives might help us also to believe in a God who can seem invisible, until we begin to notice and trust in God’s appearing.

This month, many people celebrate with gifts. Gifts can be joyful; they can also be stressful as we make our way through the complexities of giving and receiving. This month, we remember again the greatest gift—how God became visible in the person of Jesus Christ, born as a baby just like all of us. That means that just like all of us, Jesus began life receiving milk and admiration and love as well as giving joy to all who gazed at promises being fulfilled.

In the gospel of John, we’ll hear this at Christmas—“We have all received grace upon grace.” Abundant grace. We’re more embraced, more gifted, more loved than we can even imagine. It’s more than enough for us so we’re compelled to go out and share what we receive in ever-widening circles. We provide arms of support for others because we’re held up on the shoulders of so many ancestors, and so many humble people here and now. Our Tanzanian brothers and sisters call this “Ubuntu!”
When I first learned this, I learned that it meant – “I am because we are.”
Another definition: "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity."

We are all connected through Christ who is both guest and host in this season and through all our seasons, meeting us at the table in the broken bread and cup we share.
We have all received, grace upon grace.


Pastor Joy