Lent is usually marked by giving up: chocolate, TV, social media, whatever it is—we 'sacrifice' those everyday pleasures as a discipline. But how much of a sacrifice have we made? How far should our sacrifice go? Today – as Lent concludes and we look forward to the new hope that Easter brings - we’re turning it up a notch. We’re going to ask you to commit to a life of sacrifice, beyond just simple abstinence. It’s time to reconnect to the ancient view of sacrifice, to offer up our very best to God. The kind of sacrifice which opens our hearts and minds to a life of true generosity.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5: 1-2
When Pastor Tony Morley heard about the desperate need for a new kidney facing a member of his congregation, he and his wife Joyce prayed. Seeing the impact that the three-times-a-week dialysis was having on the young woman, he offered himself as a potential live organ donor and started the lengthy process to determine if he was a match. Tony shared his story with the Stewardship team recently. In his own words:
“John 13 tells us to ‘Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.’
“Love is incredibly practical. Joyce and I discussed this. She is a nurse so we had an idea of what we were getting into, and we talked about the risk with major surgery as well as the practical recovery issues.”
The results came back – positive. Tony was a match and given the all clear for surgery.
The operation went well, but Tony’s recovery was far from perfect, taking twelve weeks instead of the usual six. From Tony’s perspective, this was also a gift, providing him time to reflect on how and why he chose to give his kidney. “We were connected by similar pasts” he discovered, with both having lost loved ones to kidney disease.
The transplant was a success and his recipient rejoices in a functioning kidney and a heart full of gratitude for the generosity and sacrifice of her donor.
It’s a big story and one that few of us can, or may get the chance to, replicate.
And today, this Holy Saturday, we stand in the shadow of an even bigger story - of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Many of us taking part in 40acts will be looking to tomorrow, recognising and accepting the hope that Jesus gave us by offering His best, His life, in place of our own. Some of you might still be exploring and questioning whether you believe the Easter narrative is true – our prayer for you this weekend is that you’ll discover comfort and truth in the resurrection of Jesus.
In Romans 12 v 1 we read: “in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”
It can be easy at times to fall into the trap of saying to ourselves, “What have I got to offer, that God might possibly want or use?” or “Is my gift good enough?” and limit our own experience of generosity as a result.
Today, we challenge you to go all in. To be a living, breathing, all-day-everyday sacrifice. Something alive and active – so much more than just a ‘giving up’. An offering, a giving of our best to God. And He, as creator of all things and originator of all gifts, is ready to receive them with arms outstretched.
Throughout 40acts, we have been blown away by the daily examples of you, us, our community, offering up our best. We have been humbled by the stories of those who felt God saying, “This is what I want from you today,” even if it meant stepping firmly out of a comfort zone, sacrificing self in favour of others, or stretching ourselves beyond self-imposed limits.
As we reach the end of Lent for another year, let’s look back and celebrate what we’ve achieved together, and reflect on the lessons we’ve learned about ourselves and our giving along the way.
We might not all give a kidney like Pastor Tony, but our best gifts are yet to come.
What generous act are you being called to make today, or commit to, beyond 40acts?
For the rest of the year? For the rest of your life?
What will you sacrifice to do Life generously?
Today's blog was written by the 40acts Team from Stewardship.
Find out more about us here.
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