Receiving Others as Gifts

Gracious God, who created all humanity in your image:
Make us grateful for the companionship of other people, receiving them as gifts of your grace.

The Deaconess Litany of the Lutheran Deaconess Association

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I’ve written a few posts in the past drawing from the Deaconess Litany of my Deaconess community. It is an extended prayer that we traditionally pray on Monday nights. The remarkable thing about well-written prayers like this is the way they can work into our hearts and minds and actually be a part of forming us as God’s people.

20131206-163719.jpgThe portion of the litany quoted above has been just such a formational prayer for me. This idea of receiving others as gifts of God’s grace has worked its way into the very fabric of my being. I want to share with you a few of implications of this that have emerged for me and one reservation I have about it:

  1. Receiving others as gifts of grace means that we don’t take them for granted. Gifts are not things to which we are entitled, in fact, they are often unmerited and unexpected. Approaching our relationships in this way leaves us open to the ways that others can surprise us.
  2. Receiving others as gifts doesn’t have to mean we “like” everything they do or say. Just as we coach children to say “thank you” when they get a gift from a loved one whether they like it or not, so we too can graciously receive other people in our lives.
  3. Receiving others as gifts of God signals that they are holy others as they are from our divine creator. The sacredness with which we hold their lives and the honor we show them are necessitated by the reality that they are God’s.
  4. One reservation that I have about this prayer is the potential of the “gift” analogy to be taken too literally, as if others are mere objects. (See my previous post about teaching children that people are not objects.)

This idea of receiving others as a gift is emerging for a theme for me as I live out my faith. I’m still processing all of this, but I’m seeing connections among the types of books and ministries to which I have been drawn over the years and it seems to come back again and again to this idea. I hope to be able to write more about this as time goes on.

For now, please know that you are a gift to me. Thank you for reading!

Please connect with me either in the comments below, by e-mail at livingfaithjct (AT) gmail (DOT) com or on Facebook or Twitter (see the green buttons on the page); I love hearing from you!

Read other posts of mine about others as gifts:

The More Different We Are, The More We Need Each Other

Shutdown as Opportunity