Sitting here on a cold, wet Saturday, watching the wood burn in the fireplace, I can’t help a bit of meditating. I’m thinking about my late friend Sandy and life and death in general. I wonder how much Jesus thought about death before he died on the cross. He knew he was going to die. That was the plan from the beginning. He realized he would die a slow painful death by crucifixion, yet he was willing for our sakes to go through with it. He said he was the good shepherd who would lay down his life for his sheep, and those weren’t just empty words. We honor those who are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom—the military, police and fire rescue personnel—so shouldn’t we honor Jesus even more? He died to give us freedom too, freedom from sin and guilt and death. He gave us what this world of materialism cannot, the inner joy and peace of knowing how much we are loved and included as God’s very own sons and daughters. That’s something we can’t get from what we can buy or from other people or from our own successes. That’s amazing grace, folks!