So you thought patience was hard? How about sacrifice?? The word even sounds scary. It conjures up images of slaughtered animals and fire. It has very unappealing synonyms: detriment, disadvantage, cost, loss, forgo.  No wonder I’ve never seen it used in a kitschy plaque hanging on a wall.  It just doesn’t have the same ring as “Live, Laugh, Love”, does it?
And yet sacrifice is a word we simply must embrace if we would be followers of Christ. While patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, sacrifice is hard-wired into the definition of the Christian life.
Romans 12:2 “….present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Sacrifice is what love looks like. 
“God so loved – He gave His only Son” John 3:16.
Paul lived for the One who “who loved me and gave his life for me” Galatians 2:20.
Christ’s loving sacrifice for us is the essential pattern of our life together.
1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
That’s a good reminder in these days. There will be a lot of sacrifices to be made in the coming weeks and months. There will be things to forgo (like nursery) and detriments to be born (worshipping outdoors, social distancing). There will be losses we won’t enjoy and burdens we would rather avoid. 
But - this is where we prove our mettle as followers of Jesus Christ. This is an opportunity for us to practice the loving self-sacrifice of Christ and put the cares and concerns of others ahead of our own. As Brett McCracken has written so well:
“At a time when self-idolatry is being exposed in ugly ways (here is another good article on the subject), the church has an opportunity to model love that places the interests of others above the self. For example, someone might find it personally difficult—even maddening—to have to wear a mask during church and stay six feet away from everyone at all times. You might think these precautions are a needless overreaction. But here’s the thing: even if it turns out you’re right, can you not sacrifice your ideal for a season, out of love for others who believe the precautions are necessary?”
God is providentially testing us. Are we really committed to love and peace? Are we willing even to sacrifice? Remember, it’s how we know what love is. 
Here’s a great old hymn to meditate on. Take the time to grieve the “woes” and rejoice in the “glorious hope”!
Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love. 
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
Before the Father’s throne we pour our ardent prayers.
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one — our comforts and our cares.
We share our mutual woes. Our mutual burdens bear.
And often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain.
But we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.
This glorious hope revives our courage by the way,
while each in expectation lives, and longs to see The Day.
From sorrow, toil, and pain — and sin! — we shall be free;
and perfect love and friendship reign through all eternity.

Pastor Dale

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