Fred Craddock once talked about how grace and gratitude belong together.
He described it like this: “If you see two people standing facing each other, and there is a gift between them, and you don’t know which one is the giver and which one is the receiver, that is a Christian act. Grace is giving. Grace is receiving.”
When I hear those words, I think of our congregation’s Confirmation Class.
They have been together for several months now, and there is a marvelous blur between confirmands and mentors and teachers. When I see them together, I can’t tell who is giving and who is receiving. And I see a Christian act.
In a recent time together, their task was to create a piece of liturgical art for Holy Week and Easter. Their creation, seen at the top of this post, has been hanging in the Gathering Area outside our sanctuary the past two Sundays. I am grateful for Laura Atkins and her ability to share a vision and leave space for them to create.
When I see their creation, I hear Craddock’s words: Grace and gratitude, giving and receiving. It’s all there.
Each member of the class was given four slats of wood on which they could create their design. They were told to think about the symbols of Holy Week and Easter, their own lives of faith, and to think about the gifts and abilities God has given them.
And they were free to create whatever they wanted with their four slats of wood.
But, since that’s not all there is to being church, they also had to blend their design into the one created by the one on their left and on their right. And they remembered together what Paul once told the church: “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
There is a certain beauty to the church’s life together. But that beauty only comes through the messy blur of giving and receiving that is the Christian act of being church together.
And, if what I witnessed as I watched our Confirmation Class create their work of art together is true, it’s possible to have a lot of fun in the midst of the mess and competing visions. And the creation only makes sense when everyone gives their gifts while receiving the gifts that others share.
Grace is giving. Grace is receiving.
Grace and gratitude belong together.