Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Cost of Sacrifice

Sharing your leftovers is not sacrifice.  Giving from your abundance is not sacrifice.  Offering up your extras is not sacrifice.

There can be no sacrifice without cost.

When you give away the clothes your kids have grown out of, that is not a sacrifice. When you have $127  in your wallet and you give the guy on the corner a buck, that is not sacrifice. When you re-gift, that is not sacrifice. When you give someone a ride to a place you were going to anyway, that is not sacrifice. When you do anything which costs you nothing, that is not sacrifice. Because where there is no cost there can be no sacrifice. You may share. You may give. You may offer. These are all good things. But they are not sacrifice.

Sacrifice is the Incarnation.

 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! — Phil 2:5-8

Nor can there be sacrifice without choice.

If you hold me at gunpoint and force me to give up my wallet, that is stealing, not sacrifice. Taxation, Oppression, Extortion, Prison — any time force is present, sacrifice is absent. You cannot make someone sacrifice anymore than you can make them love. Some things can only be done by choice.

Sacrifice is the Crucifixion.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”– Mt 26:39, ESV

And there is no sacrifice without limit.

We live in a “no limits” world. Which is exactly our problem. Sacrifice requires self-limitation. We choose to have less, do less, be less that others might have, do and be more. The mother who works in order to pay for her daughter’s dance classes. She chooses to limit her time and possibilities for the benefit of her child. The husband who gives up his monthly poker night because it’s the one night a month his wife is guaranteed to have off. He limits one area of his life in order to love in another. There is an opportunity cost to sacrifice, often unseen.

The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a foetus inside a Woman’s body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Sacrifice is the Ascension

…but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. — Jn 16:5-7

Jesus calls us to lives of sacrifice. Not giving only from our abundance. Not sharing the extra. But taking from what matters. He invites us to choose these little deaths. He did. And he rose again. So, too, do we find resurrection, new and abundant life in Sacrifice.

40 Days of Text

Excerpted from the Ash Wednesday liturgy, Book of Common Prayer (1979) pp 264-5

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.

Well, we can’t always kneel right where we are, now can we? I guess we could, but it might look odd, there in the produce section of the grocery store. So as a metaphorical kneeling before the Lord our maker, we offer you 40 Days of Text.

40 Days of Text is a digital devotion you receive via text message each day of Lent. The devotions include Scripture, prayers, thoughts, ideas, sayings, questions and quotes. The idea is to pause in your day when you receive the text, to turn your attention toward God, even if only for a minute. Our hope is this spiritual practice will further your observance of a holy Lent.

Click here to sign up for 40 Days of Text

Today is Ash Wednesday

Relentless ACT:S of Sacrifice starts now! Here’s your first challenge: prepare for Lent by defining what it means to sacrifice and asking yourself “what are you willing to sacrifice?”

We are also launching a new web platform, where you can share your activism resources, create ACT:IONS to share what you are doing and tell stories to share what you’ve done.

Here’s what you do for your first Challenge:

First, watch these quick videos on how our creative activists define sacrifice.

(Go to their blog to see the videos –

Then go to the new ACT:S platform to see how others are responding and to share your own definition by creating resources, taking actions, and sharing stories for your first Challenge! There you’ll also find some ideas to get you started.



RE LENT LESS act:s of sacrifice

This Lent, join us for Relentless ACT:S of Sacrifice—a series of creative challenges to explore what it looks like to put others before ourselves in our day-to-day lives.

Each week, ACT:S will be posting a video and a challenge to inspire you to live sacrificially in your everyday lives.

Here are the 6 challenges we’ll be doing together:

Week 1- Sacrifice what surrounds us by re-creating our physical environments to bring important issues to the forefront of our every day lives.
Week 2- Sacrifice what feeds us by expanding our worldview through the food and information we take in.
Week 3- Sacrifice what describes us by re-examining how we represent ourselves and our priorities to others.
Week 4- Sacrifice what calls us by using our unique talents to fight injustice.
Week 5- Sacrifice what consumes us by re-orienting our everyday activities to activities that help make change in the world.
Week 6- Share our sacrifice with others by applying what we’ve experienced to being a creative activist and make issues come to life for others around us.

We can’t wait to begin this journey with you and explore what it will look like for us to sacrifice together!

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2

Donut Righteous

One of our family rituals is eating donuts while we grocery shop. It goes back to me riding in the cart while my mom pushed us kids through the store. I think she bought us donuts just to shut us up. Now my kids get one every time we go to the store.

The problem comes at checkout. We wait in line. I fight off the last-minute impulse items, “But Dad, I neeeeeeeed Thumbelina Magical Lip Balm!” We pay, load up and head out the door. With people rushing this way and that, three kids hanging on the cart, fighting that one lazy wheel, I finally remember. “Oh man! We forgot to pay for the donuts.” No way I’m going back in that line, with these kids, for $2.00 worth of donuts. I’ll pay for ‘em next time.

Do I feel bad? I mean, basically, I’ve just shoplifted. I am leaving the store with an item in my possession for which I did not pay. Stealing. One of the big ten. So do I feel bad? Nah, not really. It wasn’t intentional… and I’m good at rationalizing. No big deal.

I just add the cost to the donut tab I keep open in my head. And the next time I’m in the store I close it out. Unless I forget. And so on.

But at some point I always pay. Even if I didn’t get a donut that day. I tell the kid behind the register, “Oh, and add like eight donuts on there. We forgot to pay for them the last couple of times we were in here.”
He looks at me like I’ve sprouted horns. “Seriously?”
“Yeah, man, seriously. Tack ‘em on there.”
“Wow. Okay. Most people aren’t that honest.”
At which point I take a deep breath to swell up my chest and haughtily offer one of several responses I keep on hand for just such occasions. I say something like,
“Well, I’m a Christian, ya’ see.”
Or, “I’m a Jesus follower and authenticity is important to me.”
Or, “Son, my integrity is worth more than the cost of these donuts.”

Yeah. I know. I know. I’m reading it right now. I know how it sounds.

But worse than how it sounds is how it feels.
‘Cause it feels good. Real good.
Like I’m better than you kind of good.

And just like that, I’m a Pharisee.

It doesn’t suprirse me that it happens. What surprises me is how quickly, and how pathetic it is. ‘Cause let’s face it. If I can get self-righteous over donuts, I can get self-righteous over anything.

“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.” (Mt 23:25-26, MSG)

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