Weekly Reflection: Greater Love

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15: 12-13

This Lenten season leading up to our yearly remembrance of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection is an opportunity to reflect on our need for God and on his great love for us. Choosing to incorporate some form of fasting and sacrifice into our daily rhythms can deepen our awareness of our own frailty and need. It can also remind us of the needs of others. As we sacrifice variety and limit our food choices, it reminds us of our friends across East Africa who often get by with eating only one meal a day. As we pray a blessing over our rice and beans before each meal, we’re reminded to ask God to fill up our friends around the globe with good food and good health. All throughout Rice & Beans Month we make these simple sacrifices out of love for our friends who are struggling with hunger, and our own hearts are often hungry to know if it is making a difference.

The people of ancient Israel knew that their sacrifices didn’t just go up in smoke without significance. They could follow God’s instructions for sacrifice and know that it meant something. At the altar, they could lay something down and know it is enough. Jesus came and perfectly fulfilled what the altar sacrifices never could. His death and resurrection eternally declare it is enough. His sacrifice altered our lives forever, doing what we could never do for ourselves.

In today’s scripture passage, Jesus reminds his disciples (and us) that love and sacrifice are intertwined. As we make our own simple sacrifices this season, we can connect to the life-altering sacrifice of Jesus and his desire for us to love each other the way he loved us. Out of gratitude for who Jesus is and what he has done, we alter our lives so that the lives of others can also be changed. The sacrifices we are making during Rice & Beans Month are reverberations of Jesus’ love in our lives, inviting greater healing and wholeness into a broken world.

God our Savior, we love because you first loved us. Your loving sacrifice has changed us, and we pray it never stops changing us. May we live to see lives altered by your love, even when that means making sacrifices on behalf of others. Thank you for being enough to meet all of our needs, and for sharing out of your abundance so that we are able to give. Amen.

Hungry For More?

As we focus on the connection between LOVE & SACRIFICE this week, below are some additional scriptures to reflect on throughout the coming days.

Genesis 22:1-19
Leviticus 1:1-9
Psalm 51
Matthew 27:45-54
I Corinthians 13