John Shore Christian Blog and Commentary

Receiving is Human; Giving is Divine

(Here are my notes, delivered Pastor Bob style, from the talk I gave last night at North County San Diego’s 23rd Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving service. The money collected at the service was donated to Community Resource Center of Encinitas, CA.)

When I was a kid, I didn't quite understand exactly how I was supposed to relate to Thanksgiving.

It seemed to me that what was happening was that the Pilgrims were super grateful, and thanking the God they showed up with, for their outstanding ... real estate acquisition.

--I figured that when it got right down to it, they were giving thanks that the Indians had opted not to kill them.

--But to have, instead, brought them corn.

---Cool. I love corn. I had Corn Flakes just this morning!


--I don’t, of course, like corn syrup

--Corn syrup is the Indian's revenge

Point being: I always identified with the Indians.

Cool-looking clothes

I like wearing cool-looking clothes.

Excellent brown skin

At end of summer I thought I looked awesome in my tan.

Organically related to their environment; in tune with nature

I totally loved hanging out in the orchard right across the street from my house.

Clearly, the Indians rocked.

Pilgrims, on the other hand, looked to me like maybe the biggest dorks EVER.

Giant hats

An excuse not to go exploring into the thick woods

“Got the big hat. Catches on everything.”

Pantaloons. And white stockings.


Giant shoes.

And, of course, the giant Pilgrim belt buckles. Why the giant belt buckles?

How did they not look at Indians, and go, “D’oh! We could TIE our pants?”

Belt buckles must have had other purpose

Pull on shoes

Bottle opener

Surveying device

And it's not like they were making them in their humble log cabins. They must have written home for them.

“Please send us salt, dried meat, soap, lard---and could you throw in a few giant belt buckles? Can’t have too many of those.”

  Two Indians walking back from first Thanksgiving dinner.

“Those guys eat a lot.”

“And they’re kind of rude. They pick their teeth right at the table.”

“I don’t know if this is going to work out.”

“Maybe we should go get weapons, and come back here.”

“Yeah, it’s not like the men are going to be able to duck from our arrows. Their GIANT BELT BUCKLES will stop them from bending!”

Anyway, even though the original Thanksgiving was a long time ago, and had about it some dynamics which were clearly morally problematic, I do, after all, as an adult, find something there which is very inspirational.

And that is that which compelled the Indians to give.

They gave.

They responded to that within human nature which knows that it it better to give than to receive.

“Better to give than to receive” is something we hear so often we forget what an extreme concept that is. Because it is AWESOME to receive.

I love receiving.

But receiving is human. Giving is divine.

The Indians acted divinely. They were responding to the great, universal, sacred imperative to give.

I’m thankful today for that imperative. I give thanks for giving.

Which is to say, I give thanks for love.

For what is giving, but love manifested?

Giving is love put into action.

Giving—sacrificing—is how we love.


The people served by Community Resource Center need our love.

Like the Pilgrims:

out of their element

in transition

trying to survive.

They depend upon us.

When the collection plate comes around in just a few moments, reach pretty deep down and give

My wife Catherine is CRC’s Senior Director of Business Operations. She’s the number two person at the organization. She’s been there over seven years.

I know CRC. I know what they do; I know how they do it. They do what they’re supposed to do. They are faithful to their mission. They love.

Help them do that. And with me---with all of us tonight---in so doing be thankful for the divine, ever-renewing source of all love, which allows us, through the specific act of giving, to honor it, to know it better, and to become be more like it.