“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” – Luke 22:19b
Eleven days after doing everything possible to save his life, the family decided to withdraw life support. A while later, someone came out of the operating room and said, “Jim passed away twenty-eight minutes ago, and he has already saved two lives.” Jim, like Jesus, was a donor.
After years of silence, the beepers of two people who had never met went off simultaneously. They needed to immediately begin a protocol for receiving a live-saving kidney. Their two lives were forever bound together by the sacrifice of yet another person they had never met, Jim, who had laid down his life for his “friends” so that they could pick their lives up again. The same is true for those who received his corneas and other parts of the earthly body he no longer needed.
In John 15:13, we hear Jesus say, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” But laying down your life for others does not necessarily entail dying. We lay down our sacrifice of blood for transfusions. We donate our food for the bellies of people we will never meet. In church, we benefit from the sacrificial offerings of ushers, teachers, greeters, the choir and others who contribute to our survival. Just attending church is a sacrifice of the opportunity to stay home on a Sunday morning. We also receive the sacrifices of merciful, living, loving people who lay down their unreasonable demands; unrealistic expectations and harsh judgment.
We can lay down our life for our friends after our death. We can lay down our life for our friends before death as well.
Eternal God, in our living and in our dying may our love be a holy and sacrificial offering to the friends we know and the friends we will never meet. We pray this in remembrance of you.