Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Sacrificial Love…A Holy Week Reflection!

By Debby Giusti

The days roll by one after another and sometimes we forget to stop and savor the special moments God provides. This week – Holy Week – is one of those special times that call for prayerful reflection.

For Christians, Holy Week is a time to retreat from the world of today and remember what happened more than 2,000 years ago. We remember in a scriptural way, not with the recalling of events, but with anamnesis, a Greek term that means to make present something from the past so that what was and what is are brought together in the present moment. Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D., in his blog post, “9/11: Remembering How We Remembered,” explains: “It is as if we are able to inhabit two separate points in time simultaneously. Time stops momentarily (and momentously), as ‘then’ and ‘now’ become the same.”

The Last Supper, Carl Bloch, 19th C. [PD-US]

This Holy Week, we are invited to enter into the passion of Jesus Christ, the long awaited Messiah, who suffered, died and was resurrected so that we might have eternal life.  
Christ in Gethsemane, Heinrich Hofmann,
1886, Riverside Church, NY. [PD-US]

Adam’s sin that drove us from the Garden of Eden is redeemed through the blood of Christ, freely given for the salvation of the world. John 15:13 tells us, “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Ecce homo (Behold the Man), Antonio Ciseri, c. 1860-1880,
Museo Cantonale d'Arte. [PD-US]

In our writing, we focus on various forms of love. The Greek word Storge is used for parental love. Philia refers to the love between close friends, Philautia is self-love, and Eros is romantic love. We incorporate all these forms of love into our stories.

The Crowning with Thorns, Titian, c 1542-1543,
Louvre, Paris. [PD-US]
The Greeks recognize another type of love, called Agape, as the highest form of love. Wikipedia defines it as “the love of God for man and of man for God.” It is the way Christ loves each of us. It is total, complete, and sacrificial.
Flagellation of Christ, Peter Paul Rubens,
17th C, Antwerp, Church of St Paul. [GNU Free]

Christ gave his life willingly so we might have everlasting life. As we reflect on Christ’s sacrificial love and his total giving of self, let us also think of our own stories and find ways to elevate the romantic love between the hero and heroine into sacrificial love, that total giving of self for the good of the other.
Jesus Carrying the Cross, Sebastiano del Piombo, 1512-1514,
Prado Museum, Madrid. [PS-US]

Sacrificial love is what O. Henry wrote about in his famous short story, “The Gift of the Magi.” It also represents Michael Hosea’s relationship with Angel in Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. We recognize sacrificial love when police officers run toward the sound of gunfire, when our military deploy to war zones and when firefighters run into burning buildings. In my suspense stories, I often incorporate that sacrificial willingness for the characters to lay down their lives for the one they love.
Christ Crucified, Diego Velázquez, c. 1632,
 Museo del Prado, Madrid. [PD-US]
Share ways you’ve used sacrificial love in your own stories or mention books you’ve read that include sacrificial love. Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a copy of my Publishers Weekly bestseller, Amish Safe House.

The Entombment of Christ, Caravaggio, c 1602-1603,
Pinacoteca Vaticana. [PD-US]

I hope the Sacred Art shared today will enrich your Holy Week as you walk the Via Dolorosa—the way of the cross that leads to Calvary—with the Lord.

Wishing you a prayerful Holy Week and a joyous Easter as we celebrate Christ’s glorious resurrection from the dead. 

Abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

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  1. The coffee is hot! So is the tea. I've brought hot cross buns, fresh fruit and hard boiled eggs. Enjoy! :)

  2. I can't believe I am the first one on here today. This was beautifully said, Debby. Sometimes, we lose sight of the little sacrifices people make each day because we're looking for something as large as what Jesus did for us. I think a lot of the sacrifices my characters make for each other are like that. Because that's what my husband and I do for each other and friends. And it's still meaningful. We just have to stop and remember to look for the meaning and sacrifice.

    1. So true, Amy! The little sacrifices are so important and are often the way we show our love to another. We know that men fix things or keep the yard mowed or handle all of the "guy-type" jobs as love offerings to their families. I enjoy food and providing a wholesome and tasty meal for my husband and children is one of the ways I show love. Of course, our waistlines probably don't need all the ways I gift my family. :)

      I saw on FB that you have published a new book! Woot! Share a bit about your story. We're all so thrilled for you!

      Easter blessings to you and yours!

    2. Thanks so much, Debby! I am actually the guest blogger here on Seekerville on the 29th and give more details then. ;-) It's a Christian romance focused on two sisters who have to spend the summer together despite not getting along, how they learn to better love each other, and love the men in their lives.
      Needless to say, I am thrilled. And my husband is making quite a few sacrifices as I continue to work on publishing and selling more.

  3. What a beautiful post, Debby. I love the artwork you share on FB and shared here. Such talent. Such emotion in those paintings.

    I can't think of any book examples off the top of my head but will keep thinking!

    1. I'm glad you enjoy the Sacred Art. The work of the Old Masters moves me and can add a deeper dimension to my prayer and reflection. I'm a visual learner so seeing a scripture passage in art or experiencing something in person, such as when we visited the Holy Land, makes the Bible come alive.

  4. Lovely, beautiful post. Great hot cross buns! Thank you Debby

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post and the buns. Happy Easter!

  5. Thank you, Jesus. And thank you, Debby, for this beautiful post.

    1. You're most welcome! Wishing you and your children a joyous Easter!

  6. Thank you for sharing these grand master's paintings, Debby! I remember a couple of them from art history classes. These artists strove to portray the grandeur and depth of God's majesty in their work. And when Notre Dame caught fire this week, I thought it was fitting that if it had to burn, it was during Holy Week, when people could think about the symbolism of the loss of such treasure and history and magnificence. It is such a special place but only a veiled glimpse of what we'll see in Heaven some day!

  7. I have been heartbroken about Notre Dame! Such a place of history and prayer and worship over so many hundreds of years. I was touched by the photos of the cross shining so bright through the rubble. The fact that many treasures were removed in time was encouraging as well. As you mentioned, Laurie, having the fire happen during Holy Week hopefully will draw many people around the world back to an awareness and love of the Lord. Too many folks have turned their backs on Jesus, which also breaks my heart!

    So glad you enjoyed the paintings. I loved my art history class in college. Have you heard of Elizabeth Lev? She's a US art historian. I always enjoy reading her articles on various paintings. A friend had her as a guide when she toured Italy. Wouldn't that be special!

    1. No, I haven't heard of her but having someone knowledgeable like that as a tour guide would certainly enhance the trip! And I think the fact so many treasures were saved and that the bells and towers were saved etc were certainly divine intervention. I thought that while we were watching the news. And who knows how the years of rebuilding will bring together various countries and components of society over there? We can only pray!

    2. I agree about the Lord saving the main sanctuary of Notre Dame and the bell towers AND the Rose Windows that are breathtaking. That had to be the hand of God!!!

      If only the fire could bring France back to the Lord and unite many countries as you mentioned. I'm praying too!

  8. Hi Debby:

    I think it is so important that you mentioned the different kinds of love in this post.

    I've long felt that sometimes giving your life for others is a far less sacrifice than living a life of sacrifices for those same others.

    Which is the greater love: dying for your young children so they can claim the insurance money or living a life of sacrifice, perhaps tirelessly working three jobs, to provide your children with love, a caring home, and a knowledge, by example, that God loves them?

    Sometimes the greatest sacrifice is in giving up a life of plenty for decades of service to others. I'd like to see more of these endless small sacrifices serve as the foundation for heartfelt romances. These souls are the true heroines. They are the ones I love and consider 'worthy' of the most beautiful kind of love.

    Of course, I'm a romantic.

    Missy above said that she could not think of a romance novel example of such sacrificial love, at least not off the top of her head, and yet, the first book I thought of was, her very, "A Houseful of Hope", in which a rich man, who had been very hurtful and selfish in the past, comes to the aid and then begins to love a widow with four young children. They were renting one of his houses. The heroine had a sacrificial love for her children and was extremely worthy of love while the hero was redeemed by the Lord and scarified his luxury lifestyle for the love of this little family.

    For me, "A Houseful of Hope," is a genuine heartfelt love story.

    Also, along these lines, remember the photos of the statue of the three women at the cross that appeared on Seekerville a few days ago? Those three women spoke to me because they understood and lived a whole life of sacrifice. I believe we undervalue the gifts provided by those who, with little notice, live a life of sacrifice for others. Fortunately there is Mother's Day once a year! PTL.


    1. Vince, you're so right about Missy's book. It was a lovely story and steeped with sacrificial love. Parents have such a powerful influence over their children and that dying to self for the good of the children is an important part of parenting. Yes, as you mentioned, God bless all the Mothers and Fathers who provide for their families!

  9. Debby, I'm a bit late, but wanted to tell you how your beautiful post touched me. Sacrificial love is the ultimate. The Gift of the Magi is a favorite story because it shows this type of love so well. Tina Radcliffe's Falling for the Cowgirl is such a book. I won't give the ending away, but Travis Maxwell is a hero who displays selfless love.

    We're all left with a loss at the burning of Notre Dame. My son and daughter-in-law toured just last November. Their pictures were amazing! The rose windows were the first thing I thought of when I heard the news. Thankfully those appear to be saved.

    Thank you again for a touching post....illustrated with the beautiful artwork. May everyone in Seekerville have a blessed Easter celebration.

  10. Thanks for mentioning Tina's book. "The Gift of the Magi" is a favorite of mine, as well.

    So glad your son and daughter-in-law were able to visit Notre Dame. I'm sure they treasure their photos.

    Happy Easter to you and yours!

  11. Thank you Debby for sharing this Beautiful Post with us He has Risen Amen Love the Post and Happy Easter to You and Yours!

    1. Easter blessings to you and your family, Sarah Taylor! Thank you for visiting Seekerville. So glad you enjoyed the post!

  12. Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures and the inspiring thoughts. Happy Easter to you and your family.

  13. Connie, wishing you and yours a very blessed Easter! So glad your enjoyed the post!

  14. Thank you Debby for this post. Happy Easter! Lee-Ann B


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