The Two-Sided Nature of Gratitude

One of my mother’s favorite one-line life lessons was: “There are two sides to every coin.”She used it often to point to the need to recognize and respond to the other side of an issue, to see the good characteristics as well as the bad, the common experience and the outlying one, the simple answer or question and the deeper ones. Her point was: You can’t have one without the other.
Gratitude is such a two-sided idea.
Today, we use the word “thanksgiving” to mostly mean “thanks-celebration.” It suggests we are “giving” a party to celebrate all we are thankful for – all we have been given. And that is an appropriate understanding… of one side of the coin.
I’d like to challenge us to see the other side as well.
Gratitude points both to the thankfulness of receiving and the action of giving that is borne of that thankfulness. Gratitude receives, then turns to give. It is like the relay race in which a baton is handed to one runner, who then hands it off to another. Gratitude is more like an action word, a verb, than a noun (English teachers, pardon the confusion I may be causing our young readers here! 😊) 
Gratitude turns receiving into recognition that the appropriate response is to “go and do likewise.” (Read Luke 10: 25-37.) It prompts us to turn the gifts we’ve received into actionthat blesses the lives of others.
This month’s newsletter as well as our Thanksgiving morning service (see details below) will highlight the two-sided nature of gratitude.