Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Sacrifice. Ransom. Forfeit. Surrender. Give up. Let go.
The premise of sacrifice is that it is not easy. You have a decision to make, presumably for the betterment of mankind, or society, or a situation.
Yet, sacrifice is not always a grand gesture. In the little things, we make sacrifices every day. Anything you do for another is a little sacrifice.
In history, there are plenty of examples of people sacrificing for others. One that comes to mind is Marie Curie surrendering her health and life to further the study of radiation as a diagnostic tool, something we are benefitting from today.
As I write this, I'm sitting in a hospital waiting for my Mom to come back from having a PET scan done. That's a test to see if her cancer has migrated from the location in which it was found. Here’s a little background on my Mom. She was born in 1935, during the Great Depression. Her family was poor; they moved frequently and her dad had a number of sketchy professions over the years, including bootlegger and smuggler. Her parents finished 8th grade and married at 16. She picked cotton, she wore flour sack dresses. She was the first in her family to finish high school, but college was beyond her reach. She married my dad at age 22, moved a few more times, and raised three daughters, but they always struggled financially. He passed away 14 years ago, just shy of their 45th Anniversary. Six months later, she fell and broke her leg, resulting in four months in the hospital and three separate surgeries. After that, a heart valve replacement. Then, a stroke followed by a second open heart surgery. That's when I moved her out of her apartment in Chicago and into a Senior Community close to where we live. I have taken care of her every day since, through even more health challenges, despite having a full house and full time job.
Today I've taken the morning off from work to bring her to a hospital that she's never been to for a test she doesn't want to know the results of. She was stoic right up until they wheeled her away, when she looked back at me with fear in her eyes.
She has spent more than 80 years being last. As someone who never had much, it makes her uncomfortable to be put first. She regrets these years that we have foregone doing things that we’d like to do, such as take a vacation, or eat dinner before 8:30pm so that I can make her dinner and get her ready for bed before I go home to my husband, kids and grandkids. She may regret it, but I don’t. One day she won’t be here for me to serve and take care of, and I will know that I have done everything I could for the one who has helped me to find the beauty in sacrifice.
Meal: Whenever we approach the Communion Table, we’re reminded of the ultimate Sacrifice of Jesus - whose body was broken and blood spilled on our behalf, so that we may be whole and blameless in our Father’s eyes. Whatever meal is shared, consider the words of Eugene Peterson in his book, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology: “Hospitality is the daily practice in keeping sacrifice local and immediate: a meal prepared and served to family and guests is giving up of ourselves for another.” Living in the Chicago area, my favorite sharable dish is pizza. It’s flexible (you can put anything on it) and absolutely intended to be shared.
Music: Legacy - Nichole Nordeman
I want to leave a legacy,
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to you enough?
To make a mark on things
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy.
Prayer: Father, you know more about sacrifice than any of us ever will. We thank you for the example you set, and the gift of knowing that nothing given for another is truly lost; instead, it’s multiplied. May our lives be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to you, as our act of true and proper worship. Amen.
Time: Put time on your calendar to serve someone who can’t help themselves. Schedule it or it won’t happen.