When I was growing up, my pastor introduced the collection of the offering each Sunday with these words, “With gratitude for all we have received, let us offer our gifts to God.”
We receive life as gift. Isn’t that what Deuteronomy says? We may have sweated and toiled to produce this crop, but growth comes only with God’s providence—and don’t you forget it!
To be sure we don’t forget, God instituted a ritual of giving away the first and best of everything we receive and reciting our history of how we came to be where we are: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; . . . alien, . . . treated . . . harshly, . . . afflicted.” The story reminds us of our checkered past and all that we have received so that we never take it for granted. All is a gift of a generous God: every breath we take, every moment of pure delight, every sweet and juicy fruit, or tender caress we receive. We cannot generate any of it. It comes as gift—even if it requires labor to create and generosity to share.
Many people don’t live by the rhythms of planting and harvesting, so what does God expect of us? How are we to show our gratitude? What sacrifice is required of us?
First, God wants us to give away a portion of what we have as an act of self-sacrifice and gratitude and for the benefit of others.
Second, God wants us to remember and recite the story of our dependency upon God’s grace and the generosity of others.
Third, insofar as we receive and enjoy God’s providence, God wants us to celebrate and share God’s bounty with people in our communities who are wandering, alien, afflicted, and dependent upon the generosity of others.

Now, O God, with gratitude for all I receive this day, lead me to share with others. Amen.

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