Sac­ri­fice char­ac­ter­is­tic of pro­tec­tors

The Tatura Guardian - - Community - — Brian Spencer, Min­is­ter, Tatura Unit­ing Church

On the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month of the year, we stop and re­mem­ber that in 1918, an ar­mistice was signed, end­ing the ‘‘war to end all wars’’.

And peo­ple like me, who were not there and have never been part of the armed ser­vices, marvel at the ac­tions and sac­ri­fice oth­ers made in that war and in World War II, Korea, Viet­nam, the Gulf War and Afghanistan, and pray that we never see the likes of them again.

This Re­mem­brance Day, I par­tic­i­pated in a very mov­ing cer­e­mony to un­veil two large plaques in Murchi­son that are filled with the names of those who fought and served our coun­try.

It made me think about the char­ac­ter­is­tics of those upon whom we de­pend — par­ents, grand­par­ents, peace­mak­ers and peace­keep­ers.

Sac­ri­fice, it seems to me, is one of the pri­mary char­ac­ter­is­tics of care­givers and pro­tec­tors and that sac­ri­fice is built into the na­ture of re­al­ity, or at least what it means to live a good life.

We let go of cer­tain things so that greater things may come to pass.

We de­fer grat­i­fi­ca­tion, so that oth­ers might flour­ish.

We live sim­ply, so that oth­ers might sim­ply live.

We give up our time — and maybe even our lives — to pro­tect the in­no­cent and vul­ner­a­ble.

Sac­ri­fice is built into the grace­ful in­ter­de­pen­dence of life.

Con­trary to the the­o­ries of eco­nomic ra­tio­nal­ism, in­di­vid­u­al­ism and ram­pant he­do­nism that have in­fected our pri­vate and pub­lic life, ev­ery achieve­ment we per­son­ally make is grounded in the sac­ri­fices of oth­ers.

Sac­ri­fice is not a sub­ject we talk about very much these days, how­ever, the apos­tle Paul’s words to the young church in Rome pro­vide a start­ing point for con­ver­sa­tion.

In the con­text of his own sac­ri­fices, Paul notes the con­nec­tion be­tween grace and char­ac­ter and God’s love and hu­man spir­i­tual growth.

Hav­ing awak­ened to God’s grace and glory in our lives and the world, we can ‘‘boast in our suf­fer­ings, know­ing that suf­fer­ing pro­duces en­durance, and en­durance pro­duces char­ac­ter, and char­ac­ter pro­duces hope, and hope does not dis­ap­point us, be­cause God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given us’’.

Paul is not glo­ri­fy­ing suf­fer­ing, but is as­sert­ing that in a grace-filled world we have all the re­sources we need to grow through the chal­lenges of life.

We are not vic­tims, but ac­tive par­tic­i­pants in the trans­for­ma­tion of our lives and the world.

In the jour­ney of faith char­ac­ter is every­thing and char­ac­ter is grounded in mo­ment by mo­ment choices to look be­yond our self-in­ter­est to em­brace the well­be­ing of oth­ers.

On Re­mem­brance Day, we re­mem­ber those who sac­ri­ficed their lives for a cause greater than them­selves, but we also com­mit our­selves to sac­ri­fi­cial lives — to let­ting go of the ego for the greater good of our fam­i­lies, churches, com­mu­nity, na­tion, and the world.

As you pon­der Re­mem­brance Day, take time to ask the fol­low­ing ques­tions: what sac­ri­fices are you called to make for the greater good— in your fam­ily, among your cir­cle of friends, and in your con­gre­ga­tion, com­mu­nity and na­tion? What sac­ri­fices are you called to make for the vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in our land and across the world?

What sac­ri­fices are you called to make for this good earth?

Je­sus pro­claimed that there is no greater love than giv­ing one’s life for an­other.

This isn’t about be­ing a mar­tyr, but a deeper recog­ni­tion of one’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to sac­ri­fice, so that oth­ers may ex­pe­ri­ence safety, joy, growth and abun­dant life.

This is the gospel, and it’s good news.

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