Family pic before the wedding
The big news in my family is that my little sister got married on Friday. It was a picturesque weekend filled with all of the wonderful and usual things that accompany a wedding: flowers, fancy clothing, food, friends and family. (please enjoy the gratuitous pictures, who doesn’t love a baby in a suit?) It was a special moment, a significant moment. A moment worth pausing to enjoy. A moment worth pausing to ponder.
While there are many moments that I will remember from the weekend, there is one thing stood out that I wanted to share with my school family. The pastor at the wedding took some extra time during the giving of the bride. Rather than just asking the typical question (who gives this bride to be married?) and moving on, he reflected on the significance of the sacrifice the families made in raising the bride and groom and on the sacrifice of the bride and groom sacrificing their own lives to enter into marriage. In the course of the pastor’s reflection, he made a pretty interesting comment, “Most of the significant moments in life involve sacrifice.” Typically, when we are just going about our business, looking out for ourselves, days pass in a fairly average way. But when we put ourselves on the line, when we decide to give our energy, resources, and very life - in these moments we find significance.
The question arises: do we give enough space to sacrifice? Are we missing significance in our day to day lives because we aren’t giving enough of ourselves away?
My little sis coming down the isle with Dad
I see a lot of truth in this in my own life. Beyond my own wedding day, I can think of various examples of significant moments. The birth of my son was probably the biggest in my life. It was a time when me and my wife decided to dedicate our lives to raising another. This, I am learning daily, involves a tremendous amount of sacrifice. One example from school life was our choir tour two years ago, Behold the Lamb. It was one of the most significant moments of worship I’ve ever experienced as we celebrated Jesus and raised funds for Bulgaria. It was only made possible by a lot of people sacrificing a lot of time.
When we begin to examine the biblical narrative, we see this pattern of sacrifice-significance from beginning to end, but we see it most dramatically in the life of Jesus. Human history hinges on the sacrifice of Jesus - the most significant moment of all. Ultimate sacrifice, ultimate significance. We can spend a lifetime studying the impact and implication of Jesus’ act, and we will still find more to discover and celebrate. There is no end to profoundness of this event. It is here we find our meaning, and here we find our example.
In Matthew 16, Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” This same command was repeated in two of the other gospel accounts as well.
Paul picks up this idea in his letter to the church at Rome. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Paul is inviting them to a life of significance, a life lived in response to the sacrifice of Jesus. It is this act that we celebrate, and this act that we need to replicate.
In light of Christ’s example and command, where do you personally need to invest in more sacrifice? As a school community, where do we need to invest more in the practice and teaching of sacrifice? It is on the road of sacrifice that Jesus showed us that we will find the most significant moments and meaning of life.
Grace and Peace, (and congratulations Jen and Brian!)
P.S. - I used the word “significant” seven times in this post. And you know what? I think I misspelled it almost every time. It’s a challenging word, and apparently my brain is very stubborn learning it correctly. I’m thankful for spell check! Also, anyone read any good books lately?
Philip S. Warner, administrator of Berks Christian School.