I arose this morning with a heaviness deep in my chest.  I carried it with me as I settled my youngest in front of the TV and sent messages back to a few friends.  I noticed it persisted as I drank my first cup of coffee and even after getting dressed to go for a run.  Finally, I could ignore it no longer and so I turned my attention towards it.  Could this be the beginning of an illness?  Did I do something yesterday which had followed me into today?  What in the world could be causing such heaviness I wondered?  And then in that calm simple way, indicative of the Holy Spirit, I heard it.  Grief.  The answer is grief.  And just like that, an awareness began to rise in me that many of us are probably grieving today and will be for a while. What has been asked of us is sacrificial in nature.   Pain and a sense of loss always accompany sacrifice.  

Jesus understood this well.  In the gospel of John he offered us these words, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

In this season we are being called to do just this, to lay down life as we know it so that others might live.  Maybe it is hard for you to see your part in that.  Maybe what you have given up feels small compared to what others around you are doing.  But remember death by a thousand paper cuts is still painful.   Each small thing we lay down is an act of love and it matters.  It will take all of us working together, laying things down, and loving one another sacrificially to get through this.  But hear the good news.  We will get through this because God is with us and we don’t have to carry it alone.  Thank goodness because it was getting really heavy.  

Let’s pray.  God we thank you for the many sacrifices big and small being made around the world.  What an incredible testimony to the healing power of love.  Help us today to love others as you have loved us even in the midst of our grief.     Amen.