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Running scared, or running sacred? 5 March 2017

Posted by Dr Moose in Faith, Lent, Life, Self-criticism.
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There is a certain irony in today’s word. Maybe it’s a bit like the autosuggestion at work with horoscopes and we can find linkages with everything, but the day has been laden with resonances. Church in the morning, complete with Holy Communion and all that it’s meant to remind us of; a light lunch and trip into town this afternoon to take LMP to a rehearsal (complete with forgotten music and the need to rush home to get it and run across town to the stage door); not forgetting the early dinner (or was it a very late lunch?) and then back out for the concert tonight… somehow sacrifice seems rather apt.

In the context of Christian faith there are the calls to regard and emulate the life of Jesus in his selfless life and the death on the Cross “for our sake”, putting the needs of the salvation of humanity and the obedience to God the Father above his own natural best interests. St Paul goes so far as to encourage the hearers (and now, readers) of his letter to the church in Rome to present their bodies as a living sacrifice. (Mercifully not in the manner preferred by the Aztecs… I’m reminded of the Christian saying that “it’s hard to be a living sacrifice when you keep crawling off the altar”).

Sacrifice, the giving away or setting apart of something for the divine or for a greater purpose. Sometimes it may be a planned action, sometimes a response to an unexpected situation, sometimes it feels forced upon us.

How do I respond to the calls of God to set aside things for his greater glory? At the risk of being proud, I’d say, pretty well, (as long as I’m convinced I’m responding to his call, rather than that of an institution). However, as the years go by, and my contemporaries income and spending power increases (and mine does not) while I follow the call to full-time ministry I have to admit to the odd twinge. Not quite jealousy, but a bit of the ‘if only’. It’s at those times I need to remember how many good things I have which are beyond monetary value, not least being the joy and privilege of being a University Chaplain and walking alongside others.

How about the less than ‘holy’ sacrifices? The giving up of time and independence that marriage and parenthood requires, for example? That’s a bit more of a challenge! It’s easy to be gracious on the surface, especially to my Good Lady Wife (and let the record show my love expressed for her), but sometimes rather harder to hold onto that under the surface and not mutter darkly). And children? As one bishop I served under put it, “we are given children to teach us the meaning of sacrifice…” Such sacrifices certainly have their earthly rewards – as shown in the companionship, the shared joys, the discovery of growing independent persons with their own humour, skills and gifts – not forgetting this evening’s excellent concert. But let’s at least be honest enough to admit the reality! Lent is the season for honest self-examination, not the crowing about our perfection.

How about you? How do you get on with setting it aside? Am I, are you, better at running scared, or at running sacred?

 

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