What a difference a week makes! We have catapulted into some very nice warm days. Spring is on its way. Hopefully all of you made it through the great blizzard of ’21 unscathed. So many people had to do without water, without electricity, and even without any heat source. It was deprivation on a large scale. This week we also marked the passing of some 500,000 of our fellow citizens to the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic. All in all, it can be hard to process. Living in a place that has been so richly blessed by God, and yet we find so much misery and lack of resources. Its hard to comprehend.

I want to invite each of us to take a moment of time to be in prayer for those whose lives ended because of the coronavirus, those whose lives ended because of the huge Winter storm we’ve come through. God knows and God sees what has happened, let God know the depth of your grief as well.

I’m mulling over the word sacrifice today. We are in the midst of the season of Lent, and it seems particularly salient to think about sacrifice. Sacrifice is an interesting concept. We tend to think of it as something we voluntarily do to deprive ourselves of something. Usually, the sacrifice is made to meet some purpose.  We sacrifice making certain purchases in order to save for something larger, more important, more expensive. So we sacrifice a temporary need to meet a more permanent, or possibly pressing desire. For example, parents sacrifice for their children so they can save for their college education. A young couple sacrifice their entertainment expenses to save for a down payment on their first home. We see and witness sacrifice all around us.

You could say this past week when the electric grid was down and choices were made to put people in the dark, it was a sacrifice that had to be made. The problem is, it was a forced involuntary action, so was it really a sacrifice? Did the one’s who had to do without agree to this? You could say we as a nation have sacrificed 500,000 of our community, but did the persons who died do so willingly?

I think maybe the word sacrifice has a much deeper and more sacred meaning for us. When one chooses to give up something precious, which is theirs to give up, in order to achieve a particular end that is a sacrifice. No doubt, the person doing the giving up has had to do without something they value and struggle to do without. As we journey through the Lenten season, sacrifice looms large before us. In this sense, we are talking about the ultimate sacrifice. In the Gospel of John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down their life for their friends.” This is the ultimate sacrifice, that we would willingly give our life in order for others to live. Jesus pressed this issue with his followers. He needed them to understand the depth of love involved in this sacrifice. He needed them to learn this truth, true love gives up everything for another. Jesus went on to demonstrate this kind of love as he willingly traveled to Jerusalem and to death on a cross.

The look of that depth of love is hard to observe. Its hard to see a love sacrifice, and know that it was done for you. As I journey through Lent, I am reminding myself daily how much I owe to Jesus for the sacrifice made for me. I owe Jesus all of my time, all of my energy, all of my intellect, all of my devotion for the love sacrifice given for me.

How do we repay such a sacrifice? We love, without exception. Its a good phrase, its a good slogan, its a good mantra, but it means nothing unless we do so willingly and sacrificially. Friends, love is hard. Love IS sacrificial. There are many and myriad things we’d rather do than to show sacrificial love for others. Its especially hard when its those who we don’t care for, we don’t associate with, we have no relationship with, we avoid at all costs. This is true sacrifice, true love without exception. Loving those who have not shown love or concern for you. To devote and give your life for such persons, that’s real SACRIFICE.

Think long and hard about what the true meaning of sacrifice is in your life. Is it avoiding sweets, or fried foods, or luxuries during Lent? Or is it putting yourself in a place to love all, in all places, times, and situations?

I’m praying heartily that you are enjoying this lovely weather and are finding new ways to connect with those around you. Continue to love them without exception.

Blessings and Peace,

Pastor Tom

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