Mutuality and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is not a season. It’s an orientation of our minds and hearts that naturally flows into a lifestyle of generosity, of mutual giving and receiving. This week I had outstanding experiences with two groups of stewardship leaders. In both situations, our conversations and learning from one another began with gratitude and ended with expressions of thanksgiving to one another and to God. As the discussions progressed, the gift of each insight shared was built upon by another person’s experiences or skills and ended with an understanding that was greater than any one of us had had in the beginning. It was an exciting example of members of a Christian community “upbuilding one another in love.”

We cannot give without receiving in the process; nor can we receive without giving something of ourselves in return. Often, in daily life, there is mutuality in this process, a kind of interdependence that takes place. For example, when I go to visit a woman who is sick, she gives back to me in return through who she is, through our sharing and prayers together, and through our presence to each other. Even if an ongoing relationship has its rough edges, we both give something of ourselves; and we can choose to receive insight or understanding in return.

I thought of this mutuality recently when I reread 1 Timothy 4:4-5 (NRSV): “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by God’s Word and by prayer.” Here is the mutuality written large, even between us as mortal creatures and the One who has created us. God gives to us God’s Word, the good news itself; and we give back to God our prayer, our desire for relationship, out of thanksgiving for the glimpses of grace we have seen. May you experience such mutual thanksgivings in the week ahead.

Your partner in ministry,
Betsy Schwarzentraub

Written 5/10/11 for General Board of Discipleship