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Life in Greencastle - Sacrifices

The women of our church are meeting right now on the other end of the building, in the wing that stretches south towards the Putnam County Playhouse. I stopped in for a brief visit, and when I walked in I saw the American flag decorating the table with the "goodies." It didn't take me long to find my way to that table, and shortly after I did Jean Holley walked in the room with her own star-spangled shirt. We are moving into a weekend of family gatherings, of big bowls of potato salad, of the "500", of remembering our veterans, of flags and shorts and sandals. Ahhhh ... let it come, let it come.

And, indeed, here it comes: Memorial Day weekend.

As I look towards this weekend I have been thinking about "sacrifices." Makes sense: Memorial Day is about sacrifices others have made for our benefit. We let the Stars and Stripes ride the currents of wind with pride this day because others have laid down their lives to protect our freedom. What a gift. I'm thinking about the sacrifices men and women in our congregation have made in serving our country. I'm thinking of young persons like Brian and James Griffin who continue to give of themselves so we might enjoy peace and security.

But, that's not the only reason I've been thinking about sacrifices.

Those of us traveling through the Gospel of Mark on Sunday mornings have come to the 11th chapter. And, as I was preparing some thoughts and studying I remembered a central piece of Jesus identity. He is the sacrificial lamb. "Yes," I said to myself, "Jesus came to offer himself to make peace with God for our benefit!" Jesus laid down his own life that we might have life.

Sacrifice.

It is at the core of our faith.

Sacrifice.

It is the core of love.

As Jesus said, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13)

Jesus knows, doesn't he? Knows down to the deepest bone and through his entire body: love can compel you to let go of your own life.

And, I want to stop right here. Because this needs to be clear: we don't make sacrifices because that's the "Christian" thing to do ... because God commands or God expects. No, if sacrifice does not begin and end with love than it becomes as empty as the thousands of "sacrifices" offered in the Temple that Jesus came to replace:

"Sacrifice and offering you do not desire ..." (Psalm 40:6)

Love must be the fuel for the sacrifice.

And, I can see love generating your own sacrifices. More importantly: God sees it.

God sees you taking thirty minutes out of your day to stop in at Asbury Towers and visit a friend (a sister) even when thirty minutes is the last thing you think you have. An act of love. A sacrifice.

God sees you hanging around church to talk with the young families, to walk a young boy out to the car as his mother tries to get her family back home after sacrificing so much energy just to get them there. God sees that.

God sees you sacrificing your own opportunity to worship so you can help other parents worship. God sees the sacrifice you make to help the next generation learn the love of Christ.

God sees you taking the time to clean the cross, making it sparkle so we can rightly proclaim "Majesty!" not just with our music but also with our furniture.

God sees you pouring yourself out for your children even when your children know nothing yet of your sacrifice.

God sees you sacrificing so that you can support your family - driving all over Indiana and beyond. God sees your efforts to give your family a chance to enjoy this place, this home.

And - most of all - God is still there with you: giving you the love and the strength to carry on. Jesus is clapping and smiling to see you continuing his own work: laying down your life to help others live.

I hope you'll join us on Sunday as we worship the One whose love and sacrifice is the genesis of our praise. It's the Sunday when we recognize God rewards Jesus' sacrifice with eternal life in glory; it's the Sunday we make clear that Jesus is King of Kings.

And, I hope you remember on Monday that the King of Kings takes delight in those who do like him. I hope you remember God appreciates the sacrifices you've made because of love even as you appreciate the sacrifices others have made for you.

Here it comes. A time to remember sacrifices of love.

Remember and ... Go and do likewise.

Wes

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