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Advent, Hope & Sacrifice 2 December 2016

Posted by Dr Moose in Advent, Life.
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I was thinking earlier today (I know, it’s a bad habit) about the ways we express the value of things, be they people, material property, opportunities, what ever. For example a common way of showing our solidarity and desire to assist others isn’t just by the act of donation or practical action, but seeking sponsors, people who will financially back us for performing an action we wouldn’t normally do. As a secondary school child I would annually join others in doing a 20 mile sponsored walk on the Malvern Hills. It was an enjoyable piece of exercise, and a not particularly taxing one (although I wonder how much different I’d find it now, some 35 years on!) However, it’s possible that that feeling of not being especially difficult has coloured some of my opinions about sponsored endeavours. If I’ve not done something it’s more often an indication of laziness on my part, rather than the fear involved in overcoming a difficult challenge (and in admitting that I’m fully aware that I’m opening myself to the criticism about why I’ve not done more).

However, for once, I’ve done something, and that’s to help raise funds for Movember, the hugely laudable campaign to raise the awareness of men’s health issues and in doing so, to save lives. How do you do it? Simple: presuming you’re male you simply grow a moustache through the month of November. At face value that’s not especially difficult at all – letting facial hair do what comes naturally, with a bit of trimming. The most likely cost is more psychological in the embarrasment, especially in the early stages, with a side order of discomfort. One reason I’ve never done it is that I already have a moustache, paired with a long goatee beard, and have stubbornly refused to shave it off for over 20 years (no matter what my mother says!) To misquote Galileo, “the beard stays”. But I do have other hair on my head, or did until just before 11am this morning. The facial stuff is a badge of moderate pride, my hair just grows and needs regular attention. It won’t for a while, as it’s all been shaved off! I insisted that the uni team raised over £500 to justify the action, fully expecting us to do it, and we did. (My wife and children are yet to see the response).

I trusted it wouldn’t look too bad (but after all, I’m not the one who has to look at it!) and I have a sure and certain hope (that Advent phrase again) that it’ll grow back again. For me it’s only hair. It will do what hair does: itch and grow. (Of course we’re also heading into the North-Western European winter, which will do what it does, but I’m prepared: I have a hat!)

It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. Certainly not when put into that frame of reference that looks at a sacrifice as the price you are willing to pay for a greater good. The fact that I won’t be at Dragonmeet tomorrow because the family deserve my presence after two weekends at work (and to a lesser degree, because I said I’d sing carols at church) feels like a far greater one, even if the cost is entirely personal and depriving me of a bit of fun (and good company).

It’s still trivial when looked at as part of the big picture, such as the loss borne by the Holocaust survivor at last night’s guest lecture in fleeing post-Anschluss Austria, or those of his parents, forced to sell up, pay to send him and his sister overseas and ultimately pay with the their lives simply for being Jewish. The irony, of course, which rounds the circle and brings us back to Advent, lies in the gift and ultimate sacrifice of another Jew, Jesus, recognised as the Christ, the Messiah, in his first coming as the child of Christmas and in another one yet to come.

What price am I, are we, willing to pay for a greater good, as we journey onwards through Advent? Plenty to ponder.

 

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