Musing 9.18.20

“We have to decide how to live in the present so that those in the future will be grateful for us.”

That is a terrific quotation! One of you sent it to me this week as something I said in a sermon several years ago. While I don’t remember saying it, I hope I did. I am certainly glad it was remembered by one of you. I hope the sermon that Sunday was short because a lot of words around it would be a distraction.

We live in such a way as to make the future better. Among the behaviors the quotation calls forth is sacrifice. Sacrifice is sometimes confused with investment. Investment is to give up something in the present so that I get a blessing in the future. Sacrifice is to give up something so that someone else receives the blessing. For example, my pension (not a bad thing) is an investment in that I forego pay in the present for a blessing in the future. If I take that pay and give it to my grandchildren that is a sacrifice. Or if, in the future, I give a portion of my pension to my grandchildren; I have turned that investment into a sacrifice. We talk of Christ’s sacrifice, not his investment. We talk of faith as sacrifice, not investment.

Frederick Buechner writes that “to sacrifice something is to make it holy by giving it away for love.” That too is a terrific quotation. If what I sacrifice is given in love, it is made holy. I could give it to manipulate; I could give it grudgingly. If I give it in love, it is made holy. Who makes it holy? I would say God does, but I have worked with God in making it holy. Elsewhere in his writings, Buechner defines holy as that which has God’s mark of goodness upon it.

This is amazing. Just think of what we may help God make holy by giving it away in love. Things, clothes, money, food, time, space, ego, pride, control, self-righteousness, I wonder if the world seems less holy because I have refused to give something away for love. Then I wonder if it feels disconnected and lonely because I have not sacrificed. Of course, the point is that we can help make the world holier. As we think of what we may sacrifice, it is worth thinking of the recipient of our sacrifice. That is a giant clue to what or whom we love.

When I think of my grandchildren, I hope they will be grateful for me. I’ll also feel good for I have acted for love. I’ll know I am capable of love. People who sacrifice in the present for the future are certainly visionary. They are also blessed in that they are hopeful. Hopeful people are not hope-less. They see something for which to live. They believe in the future. They are God’s co-workers. Paradoxically, they discover that through sacrifice, they become more. It is a good way to live.

Hope you are safe and well.