Empty Hands

A reflection on giving and receiving in partnership

This resource, "Empty Hands," provides an opportunity for reflection on giving and receiving in global partnerships. Read it as a group and share feelings and responses.

When people approach one other with their hands full of gifts for each other, they cannot even shake hands or embrace in greeting, much less exchange their gifts, so long as their hands are full. First they must set these gifts aside in order to greet each other with empty hands.

Given our constant struggle against the insidious temptations to incur gratitude and gain influence over others with our gifts, what better place on which to put these gifts when we approach each other than the altar at the foot of the Cross? Once we have each brought our gifts forward to that altar and placed them there as a genuine thank-offering, we are then able to turn our backs on them and for that moment our hands are empty.

We are now free to greet one another as sisters and brothers in Christ, to embrace, to walk and work together in witness and service, to laugh and cry together in joy and sorrow experienced in solidarity - and then to take from that same altar each according to our need. The altar will have purified the gift of the inevitable lingering traces of manipulation and hunger for control. Each sister, each brother, becomes both a giver and a receiver after they have met and embraced one another with empty hands.

By Frederick R. Wilson
From Empty Hands, World Council of Churches
Geneva, Switzerland, 1982 


Showing 4 reactions

  • Stephen Katuta
    commented 2020-08-26 05:18:30 -0400
    Shalom, Brethren am Pastor Stephen Katuta. Am not yet full time Pastor because I also work for the government in the Ministry of General Education as a Senior Education Standards Officer in Charge of Special Education for Luapula Province of Zambia. As a Church we used to congregate at a Primary School in Chongwe District of Lusaka Province of Zambia. But due to covid 19 we were stopped from gathering at School and we now meet at my house every Sunday. On average we used to be 150 every Sunday but now the number has reduced to half and below. We are now building a 300 seater Church which is now at slab level. We are about to start raising the walls. Most people in the church live under abject poverty and we need partners to assist us complete the construction and to put up a school to assist congregants get the literacy and numeracy skills. Any assistance towards this noble cause would assist in spreading the gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ in Mwantalasha Village of Chongwe District. At the moment the Church is not affiliated to any other church bodies and any partners wishing to extend their mission work through our church are most welcome. Pastor Stephen Katuta. Zambia.
  • Stephen Katuta
    followed this page 2020-08-26 05:16:08 -0400
  • Israel Blessed
    commented 2020-01-18 18:57:56 -0500
    Beloved brothers and sisters in the lord am evangelist Israel Monday from Lagos Nigeria,.God gave me an Evangelical ministry some years ego I will finish my Bible school soon..am still trusting the Lord to provide sponsors of the ministry I really need financial support… I don’t want sit or waist time after my school before starting the ministry…
  • Roland Sundemah
    commented 2019-05-20 06:18:15 -0400
    Good morning Empty Hands.I am
    Pastor Roland L. Sundemah, from Liberia, west Africa.By the grace of God Almighty I will love to get in partnership with your organization.