Each year invites us into the rhythm of giving and receiving as a path for spiritual growth. As we look back on the past year what have we given to others that has been a source of blessing for them? What is it that we have received that has most enhanced our life? As we look ahead to the new year, what is it that we want to give to others? What is it that we desire to receive? As we join in prayer, let these questions be uppermost in our mind and heart.
Song: “You Are Called to Tell the Story” (CD: Gift of God, Marty Haugen)
Reading 1 A Time for Giving and a Time for Receiving (Prayer Seeds, Joyce Rupp)
(go around the circle with each person reading one line, continue until all lines are read)
There is a time to give and a time to receive:
• a time to breathe in and a time to breathe out
• a time to wake up and a time to go to sleep
• a time to speed up and a time to stop
• a time to speak and a time to listen
• a time to be active and a time to be still
• a time to give gifts and a time to accept them
• a time to help and a time to be helped
• a time to be strong and a time to be vulnerable
• a time to cook a meal and a time to eat what others prepare
• a time to stand strong and a time to let go
• a time to read and a time to reflect
• a time to tell a joke and a time to laugh at another’s
• a time to reach out and a time to draw back
• a time to feed creatures and a time to simply enjoy them
• a time to give away and a time to gather back
• a time to extend kindness and a time to embrace it
• a time to hold and a time to be held
• a time to love and a time to be loved
Reading 2 (Marilyn Jenett)
So, if giving and receiving are both aspects of the flow of energy in the Universe, then how can one be “better” than the other? How can one exist without the other? How can we exhale if we don’t inhale, and vice versa? …The biblical scripture does not say, “It is better to give…” The scripture states, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” …God is ready and willing to give us our supply. But if we cannot receive, then where is the blessing? The seeds contain the gift within themselves, but if the soil is depleted and cannot receive, where is the blessing?
If our good wants to get through to us, to reach us, but fear is occupying our thoughts and emotions so that there is no room for it, then where is the blessing? If we give to someone, but they do not feel deserving to receive, or are ungrateful, embarrassed or feel obligated, then where is the blessing? So yes, giving IS a blessing and allows us to become individualized expressions of the Creator itself, however, we must come to a very definite realization that receiving is a very important part of giving. With no receiving, there is no giving.
When there is a gracious receiver, then the giver AND the receiver are blessed. Pleasure, contentment and good fortune are bestowed on both.
Reading 3 (“The Law of Giving” Deepok Chopra)
The universe operates through dynamic exchange…
giving and receiving are different aspects
of the flow of energy in the universe.
And in our willingness to give that which we seek,
we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives.
Sit with palms open on your lap. Notice the rhythm of giving and receiving that is part of your breathing. Breathing in, you receive life-giving oxygen for the body; breathing out, you give carbon dioxide to the parts of creation that cannot live without it.
Ponder: looking back at the past year
Breathing in… What have you have received for your personal growth?
Breathing out… What have you given to others that has been a source of blessing for them?
Ponder: looking ahead to the next year
Breathing in: What do you desire to receive for strengthening your inner life?
Breathing out: What do you most want to share with others for their benefit?
Spontaneous intercessory prayers
Blessing of those present (by the leader)
May you give with a loving heart in the coming year,
and receive the satisfaction that comes with doing so.
May you receive from others with openness,
and allow them the gift of giving to you.
May you acknowledge your vulnerability,
and have the wisdom to recognize your need.
May you reach out with continual kindness
and do so with a loving and peaceful heart.
Song: “Love Shall Be” (CD: A Heart’s Journey, Monica Brown)
Love shall be our lantern flame, Burning in our pilgrim hearts.
Love shall be our lantern flame, Guiding us beyond the known.
Repeatedly we are given chance after chance
to stop and listen to all that is fundamental.
When forced to our knees, we are offered the
chance to hear the warmth in all that holds us
up. When drawn into the vastness that
surrounds us, we are offered the chance to
hear the waves of God’s voice, of which we are
one, if we can leave the noise of others behind.
When we can listen deeply, we are
strengthened to feel that everything around us
lives within and that everything within us lives
as part of the world.
(Mark Nepo, The Exquisite Risk)