Jesus said, ‘‘But I say to you that listen … Give to everyone who asks from you; and if anyone takes away what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ (Luke 6:30-31)
Nothing left to give.
The toddler’s arms outstretch.
We both surrender.
Reflection 2: A curate (assistant pastor) of my acquaintance, freshly ordained, had just started in his first parish. The Vicar (senior pastor) had given him a list of elderly folks who could no longer get to church to visit regularly. This being a church of sacramental tradition, his task was primarily to conduct a brief service in which the bread and wine of the Communion could be received. One of those to be visited was an elderly woman, who was quite hard of hearing. This parishioner preferred the service from the Book of Common Prayer of 1662. It was the prayer book she had been brought up with so she knew all the prayers by heart. The curate was happy to oblige. Together they would say the service. Well, it was not always together. Not quite in unison. Sometimes they were not even saying the same sentence. But the prayers were said.
The business of the service being complete she asked the curate, ‘Will you stay for a cup of tea?’ Being very unsure of himself, and finding communication with this lady quite difficult, he declined and offered the excuse, ‘Thank you very much, but I have others I need to see today. I will come again next month.’
Next month came and he took refuge in the words of the service. Again the invitation to stay for a cup of tea and again the clerical excuse of busyness was offered.
The third month came and the curate knocked tentatively on the door of her small unit. She welcomed him in to the lounge, and next to the chairs on which they were to sit was a small side table. On it a tea pot under a knitted cosy, a jug of milk, two fine cups and saucers, a plate of savoury biscuits and another of chocolate biscuits. He knew immediately that there was no way he could decline the offer this day. Busyness or no, he was staying for a cup of tea.
Jesus, quoted by the apostle, says, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20.35) But this young curate learnt that day that he needed to learn how to receive. And that receiving can actually be giving.