1 Corinthians 12:4-11
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
Today we in the United States are pausing to remember the men and women of the armed forces who left their homes and loved ones, and eventually gave up their lives in order to protect our freedoms and to bring the hope of liberty and justice to those who may have never known it without their efforts. Even when the reasons behind the fight might have come into question, the dedication these people had to their calling was never in doubt.
As single parents we can understand this call to sacrifice what we want for others, as we have given up many of our former hopes and dreams, many of the ambitions we had, all in order to take on the monumental task of raising our children (mostly) by ourselves. Some of those reading this devotion may have had an even deeper experience of sacrifice, as Memorial Day could have a much more personal connection, as they lost someone in the service of freedom.
Regardless of the sacrifices we have experienced, no matter what price we have paid, as parents we are called to continue on in spite of any pain, sorrow, or resentment (justified or not) that we may be feeling. Sometimes, when our load seems too heavy to bear it can be hard to keep moving forward, and it is during these times that we need inspiration to use the gifts we have been given, including the gifts of friendship and love that we share with each other.
The sacrifices of those we honor today, can inspire us to find courage and strength we did not know we had, and can lead us to new reserves of faith and hope that can help us to face the many challenges of being a single parent. Inspired by the selflessness of others, we are reminded that no sacrifice is ever made in vain, even if it first appears to be fruitless, as sacrifice always comes at a price: a career, a way of life, financial security, or the loss of a loved one. The truth is that any sacrifice we make for our children, or for others, has its own reward: knowing what we have done has made a difference and has helped to uplift the lives of others. We have also gained new gifts and a deeper faith through the sacrifices we have made, regardless of the results.
When we selflessly use the gifts that we have been given to support and care for our children, or to give hope to others who struggle, we are truly following Christ, who like those we honor today, gave us the ultimate gift, sacrificing himself so that we may live free from sin, and in the liberty of the Holy Spirit, who inspires us to meet our challenges…together, as people of a shared faith in God’s great love for us!
So today, in the midst of our holiday celebrations, let us pause to remember all those who have sacrificed so much for us, who have truly lived the call of Christ to lay down their lives for their brothers and sisters, many of whom were strangers. When our going gets rough, and we feel ‘beaten up’ by facing life on life’s terms, let us remember follow their example of selflessness, and also how those who face battle never face it alone, but as part of a team…and that we too, as followers of Christ are all in this world together, and this is one of our greatest gifts, and our good news for today: that we are not alone, but surrounded by the Spirit of God’s love that burns brightly in all of us!