The Ultimate Sacrifice

Yesterday I attended a friend’s babies’ (triplets!) dedication ceremony at her church where the service and sermon afterwards really knocked me off my feet. When I first walked into the church, there was fairly loud, rockin’ music playing, lots of people hustling around and being extremely friendly – recognizing me as a newcomer right away – and just a general sense of happiness and light through out the place. Expecting a traditional, more staid-like church atmosphere hadn’t prepared me for this experience. I was pleasantly surprised. Not that there’s anything wrong with the more traditional church approach; I’m a fan of that style, too, but this really awakened my senses and whetted my appetite for more.

As I walked into the nave, the music grew louder and a full band on stage greeted me with sounds of contemporary Christian music. I loved seeing 2 guitar players, a bassist, a keyboardist, a drummer, and 4 singers up there really getting into their stuff. I couldn’t help smiling as I found my way to a seat among the dancing and swaying parishioners as I looked for my friend and her babies. The dedication ceremony itself was relatively brief, but very precious. How could it not be with three smiling babies facing the congregation? At the end, a soloist sang, “Yes, Jesus loves me” in the sweetest voice ever. Loved it.

But the thing I loved the most was the message the pastor preached to us that day. He started out with a mention of all the veterans who have served us and we applauded them all. This led into two very moving stories of servicemen in the past. One was an 18 year old in either World War 2 or Vietnam (I forget the specifics) who picked up a live grenade the enemy had just tossed into their camp and tucked it into his stomach so that he would die instead of his four buddies serving next to him. The other story was similar but more recent. An equally young man was driving a tanker when a grenade landed on it. He could have jumped out and the tank with the four soldiers inside would have exploded. Instead, he chose to take the grenade to his mid-section – killing himself, but saving the others.

As the pastor told these stories, I wondered if I would have made the same choice those two men did. I honestly don’t know that I would. Maybe it’s different in war time and you’re right there in the moment. Maybe I would in those circumstances. I hope my character is stronger than I think it is, anyway.

The pastor then went on to tie the message of the sacrifice the men and women who have served and lost their lives for our country to the small, every day sacrifices we can make in our relationships. He joked that most people would take a grenade to the stomach, but not give up doing their favorite activity for their loved ones. That got a laugh, but it really hit a nerve. He asked how much do we truly sacrifice our wants and needs in a loving, filled with humility way – in order to deepen and strengthen our relationships. I know I have a lot of work to do in that regard. So much work. The promise of self-sacrifice is deeply rewarding relationships beyond imagination, though, and I want that.

Of course, he ended the sermon with the parallel of the sacrifice Christ made for us – and I just loved how he tied it all together. It was a great way to start my day and a great reminder of the sacrifices the men and women of our great United States of America have made for our country. I’m grateful for every one of them and will take time today to reflect on those who have lost their lives so that we may live a better one.

3 Responses to “The Ultimate Sacrifice”

  1. Shantanu says:

    I liked the part about small sacrifices and how they can strengthen your relationships. Re: strength of character, one never knows unless tested in extreme circumstances!

  2. Deb says:

    Sometimes I take my son to church, and it’s a very traditional Catholic environment. One time there was a visiting priest there, and he spoke in a more modern way, relating things to life around us. It was so refreshing. I’d much prefer something like this…and the music sounds fabulous.

    I might attend church more if there was one that felt more comfortable and modern to me.