COLLECT OF THE WEEK
O God, whose glory it is to always have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. - Book of Common Prayer, p. 218
“Jesus said to him, if you wish to be complete, go sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)
I think of this passage often when I think about sacrifice. We all make sacrifices in our lives, although some may not be as all consuming as giving up all your worldly possessions. It may be as small as giving a meal to a homeless person. I remember a meal I gave to a homeless person in Westwood, CA. I sacrificed my own hunger and need for nourishment in order to give a forlorn, disheveled old man a meal. I was working a particularly long technical rehearsal. I had a dinner break and only one chance to eat in the next 8 hours. I needed that dinner to get me through the evening. I went to a little cafe and ordered a meal worthy of the name meal! As I walked out the door with my mouth watering in anticipation of the deliciousness to come, I noticed the hungry old man standing there with a sign. I decided then and there that he needed that meal more than I did. I gave it to him and he thanked me with tears in his eyes. I felt good about my decision…my sacrifice, if you will. My stomach growled with hunger the rest of the evening and I may have been a tad cranky with my co-workers, but I felt I did the right thing. I went without, so someone else could eat. I would do it again.
And, I wonder: if most of us aren’t going to sell all of our possessions and give them to the poor on the one hand, and if an incident like my sacrificed meal – good for me and for him as it was – was nonetheless a random, ad hoc, reactive event on the other hand…is there something in between all and random. Something regular, intentional, and faithful that we can do. A chosen, ongoing sacrifice that makes a difference. Volunteering at ECCO? A monthly check to 180 Place? A weekend route for Meals on Wheels? Could the Church, being a place of organized Christian activity, be a place that could help us answer those kinds of questions? Let’s ask!