Yesterday’s service at our church was an amazing blend of the two themes of Hope and Sacrifice. We started with a video clip about Teen Challenge, then had an update from missionaries about the need in Poland, and our message for the morning was delivered by Tim Huff, who works with street kids through Youth Unlimited (Youth for Christ) in Toronto. Hearing of the great need and the heart-wrenching stories, one could feel that the picture is hopelessly dark.
But the bright flame of Hope that shines is fueled by several factors. One is the way various people have been led to do something about the need–in Tim’s case, among other things, they drive a bus around (the “Light Patrol”) to find homeless people and help them get to other organizations that provide what’s needed. Another source of hope is how often a small deed can mean so much to someone; like the young lad who remembered so well how affectionately a patch was given to him at a childhood daycamp, that he took it with him to the street (it said “Smile, Jesus loves you”).
On the one hand, you have all the people who have treated these kids so very badly, but on the other hand is all of these others who see them as precious—they could be your own kids, your own nieces or nephews, your grandchildren, etc. And so we move to Sacrifice.
And I love how Tim spoke of the “art” of sacrifice. It gets into what I wanted to talk about this week—a gift has so much more meaning if it has been at least a little bit difficult for the giver to give it up. And if it is not given with love, you may as well give the person a headache instead… “If I have not love, I am as sounding brass or clanging symbols,” or as the Message says it, “I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)