Posts filed under ‘sacrifice’
Only a couple of weeks ago, Lent began. The Wednesday of ashes being sprinkled on my head. On the heads of others who would have them.There was a time when I didn’t think I wanted the ashes, didn’t want another reminder that our days are counted by someone else. And no reminder of pain and suffering. Maybe it was that I had all I could bear at that time and couldn’t conceive of adding any more.
It’s not that we’re so far removed from our human frailty, the need to turn our troubles over to God, to pray without ceasing, or to be reminded that someone else has the world in his hands. That someone loves us so much that he’s willing to give up his son for us. That’s a hard thing to understand for anyone, let alone parents who love their children.
Do we ever really understand the meaning of Lent? Oh, we try. We go through the motions easily enough. Go to church on Sunday, Wednesdays in Lent. Watch the calendar and count down the days until Lent is over. And we know that without Lent, there can be no Easter. Sometimes it’s more in the head than the heart.
I hear others talk about fasting, or giving up something for Lent. Even in our own church body, the bigger church. An article in Canada Lutheran about fasting. What should I give up? What would cost me some pain to do without? A luxury? What is a luxury for me? We have to eat. We have to nourish our bodies somehow. My craving, sweet tooth, give up something for Lent? I struggled with “the what” for more than a week.
Maybe that is what the gnawing struggle of a Lent fast is all about — the growing pains of grace.
That’s what Ann Voskamp wrote in her blog today. She’s struggling too. I think she had already named her fast while I was still thinking about it.
I was in the grocery store when it came to me. While I wait, I sometimes pick up a magazine to read, though not as often as I’d like to. I love to read, whether it’s magazines or books; it’s like a hunger sometimes, about as intense as … shall I name it? Chocolate.
One young man at church yesterday said he was giving up beer for Lent. Perhaps for him, having a beer with his friends will be a sacrifice. It wouldn’t be a hardship for me since I don’t drink beer.
I decided to give up buying magazines and books for myself during Lent. Goodness knows I have enough of them at home waiting to be read. I could purchase one as a gift for another person, for a baby gift I plan to buy, just not for me, at least not until after Easter. That’s going to be tough when I’m at the bookstore, signing, on the weekend, not to bring home a new book for myself. It will be hard to resist the temptation. Maybe I’ll regret the choice. But here, it’s out in the open.
One other suggested expression was to help someone else who needs support, to purchase items for the food bank or things the Working Centre can use to help their patrons. That’s an offering of ourselves, going out and shopping for some items they can use.
I suppose a fast will be different from one individual to another. This sacrifice will be mine for this Lent. Will it be hard? You bet!
Just a small reminder though, that it cannot compare with what Christ gave up for us.
January 17, 2010.
Imagine, if you can, waking up in Haiti any day this week since the massive earthquake, if indeed you could find a safe place to sleep, to see destruction all around you. Imagine that you are a child and your sibling is dead, or a mother and your family is buried in the rubble of broken buildings.
No water, no food, no one to help. Imagine the desperation. In a country already under great duress, the aftermath of the earthquake would certainly bring on additional fear and anxiety.
The news brings this disaster into our homes by radio, television and newspaper. We cannot pretend it away; the devastation is real and people are hurting and desperate, and in great need. The Waterloo Region Record reported yesterday:
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Drumbeats called the faithful to a Sunday Mass praising God amid a scene resembling the Apocalypse – a collapsed cathedral in a city cloaked with the smell of death and rattled by gunfire, where rescue crews battle to pry an ever-smaller number of the living from the ruins.
Our pastor talked today about the actions such catastrophes bring about: the good, when people offer their help financially, and physically by being there, but also the bad, when people are angry, upset and so desperate that some people search for whatever they can find, whether it belongs to them or not, or they storm supply vehicles that are there to bring food and water. Not only that trouble, but also Internet sites set up supposedly to collect money for earthquake victims—people looking to make a buck at others` expense and goodwill.
It would be easy to say that there are others who can help, or that people bring such trouble on themselves. I knew before I even set foot in my church today that I would send a donation. I sent it through Canadian Lutheran World Relief that I know is working there already beside the Canadian troops and other aid organizations. My dollars are not a great amount, but when they are matched, the whole sum of many such dollars mutiply the aid available. I hope that by this evening, a few more poor souls have some food and water, and a shelter too.
I cannot imagine living through such an ordeal. I knew that even as I sat on the church bench that our prayers for the people of Haiti will be answered, perhaps not in a hurry, but that there is help coming. Jesus comes to the poor and desperate; he is there with them in Haiti, he who died for us to show his Father`s love is there with them too.
Some may wonder if God has abandoned them; they may think God does not care. Jesus came to help those who need it most. He comes to bring comfort. People act in his name, through thankfulness of what God gave them.
The nurse from our area, who went to help on a mission trip, died with the people of Haiti. She had no idea, nor did her family, that she would be in the middle of such a massive upheaval. She went because there was a need and she could help. She`d been there before and probably felt the calling to go back. So soon after her arrival, the earthquake hit and she was another one of its victims. Now her family mourns with the thousands who survived but lost everything including their loved ones.
If you`re going to send aid, do it through recognized charities like the Red Cross, Canadian Lutheran World Relief or whatever agency your church works through, to make sure your dollars count, and to make sure they get there. Meanwhile pray for the people that the help can reach them in time.
Fellow writer Glynis Belec writes about her father and his comrades from the Royal Marine Association. Charlie, one of the men in their group who has lived in a nursing home for years didn’t know them anymore though his fellow comrades visited him whenever they could.
We who have never been through war may never know just how hard it was for the men who fought, how they would have had to stick together just to make it through a day of battle. Glynis says,
I am so moved by that dedication and love for fellow man. It didn’t die on the battle field or surface once a year…these valiant Royal Marines (yes dad, I am saluting!) kept on giving and making time and caring for their comrade to the end. What an example.
Go here to read the rest of her post and to listen to a song dedicated to the men who died that we might be free.