Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sacrifice

I've been absent from my blog for the past week, because to be honest... how do you follow news like that covered in my last post?

Now seems an appropriate time to reflect on other things, whilst still bearing in mind the events of the last week.

Today is Remembrance Sunday... the day when we traditionally call to mind the horrors of the last century's wars (and of course, more recent and even current conflicts). We think about those who laid down their lives, those who suffered due to the loss of loved ones, and those who came back and somehow tried to put the pieces of their lives back together in the aftermath of the harsh events they had witnessed.

For me remembrance is less about the war itself, and more about showing respect for people who had the courage, conviction and willingness to sacrifice their own lives (in life or in death), to preserve the freedoms and relative well being that I can experience in this country today. Today for the first time in my living memory, Alcester called out the names of men who had not died due to military conflict - the names off course, were the names of the firefighters: Ashley Stephens, Darren Yates-Badley, Iain Reid and John Averis. They may not have died to save their country from a foreign threat... but nobody, NOBODY can deny that the sacrifices they made in life and in death... preserved people's freedom and well being as well. How many people today enjoy liberty and life due to the work of those men... and for that matter all this world's fire, rescue and emergency workers? So it is all the more fitting that they also were remembered along with the war dead today (read more about their lives here).

Many of the tributes that have poured in to Alcester and indeed Stratford-upon-Avon over the past week, have included condolences from teams of firefighters in other nations. Most notably and poignantly among those, have been the words of the Firefighters of New York. They (and several others) quoted a passage from the Bible:

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:13

Those were Jesus words to his disciples. I am also reminded of something Paul wrote to the Romans:

"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:7-8

So when I read of the sacrifices made by others... irrespective if it is with respect to the Christian faith, it always reminds me of the sacrifice Christ made for the salvation of mankind - you and me.

How then, should we respond to the sacrifices made for us... be it those of servicemen, the emergency services... or ultimately the sacrifice made by Christ for our redemption?

As I passed by the war memorial to look at the names inscribed on it... and at the wreaths, I also read one of the adjoining plaques... and the words (pictured below) resonated especially with me at this time:

Live as nobly as they died. It's a big ask isn't it? However, if we continue to live only shallow lives, do we not dishonour the sacrifices that all those people made on our behalf... in good faith?

Remaining on the theme of sacrifice, I'd like to conclude with an idea of what I believe from the Bible, is a good way to "live nobly" as the memorial suggests. It is the 12th chapter of Romans, the first section of which is fittingly entitled "Living Sacrifices":

Living Sacrifices

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Love

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Romans 12

We will remember...

To find out more about the work of The Royal British Legion and the Poppy Appeal, follow this link.

To find out how to write condolences for the Alcester and Stratford-upon-Avon firefighters or to donate funds towards the support of their loved ones, click this link to the Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service.

1 comment:

  1. Calporrog Cymru10:20 pm

    Dear Nick,
    We are a small group that are very interested seeing inside and maybe helping our local parish churches, (our interest is purely from an historical building point of view). I've just had a look at your blog for the first time and I/we are hoping you maybe one of the very people we are looking for to read our blog and maybe leave a comment for us? We have tried to 'communicate' with the congregations through their web site, but our appeals just seem to antagonise them. The clergy are open and friendly, but the congregation of one church in particular, seem very cold and unfriendly to strangers. As you are a christian, and a 'wandering shepherd', would you mind reading our blog and tell us if we are failing to get over that we are a friendly and happy bunch who just want to help them. We would be very pleased if you could let us know if our space is sending out a different message to this.
    Many thanks for your time and may your God be always with you,
    Calporrog Cymru
    Our space address: http://calporrog.spaces.live.com
    Rectorial Benefice Address: http://www.caldicotbenefice.org/

    ReplyDelete

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