This week witnessed an appalling tragedy in Portugal. Robert and Deborah Fry and Barbara Jean Dinsmore from Wootton Bassett, in Wiltshire, died there on Monday. The three Britons and a German were killed while trying to save their children from strong currents off Praia do Tonel beach near Sagres. When their children, who were playing in the sea near to a large rock, got into difficulties, the rescuers rushed to their aid without thought for their own safety. Following the drownings, all the children were rescued by some young surfers or managed to get ashore with only minor injuries.
It is deeply moving to consider the attitude of these people. Theirs was the ultimate sacrifice. I know as a parent what motivated them, and it is both awesome and humbling to be aware of such strong emotions in our hearts. 'Greater love has no man than this' said Jesus, 'to lay down his life for his friend'. We salute their bravery and selfless love, though mourn and regret their loss and the tragedy of the outcome.
The very fact of the presence of such compelling love is another sign of the handiwork of God in us. He is also a self-sacrificing lover. Jesus gave Himself on the cross for our salvation with no thought for His own comfort or feelings. He became a sacrifice for us - for me - because He knew I was in deep trouble. The rip currents of my sin were so deep and strong that unless He had come and hurled Himself into the waves I would have been lost forever. But here the image stumbles. Jesus did die in the attempt to save me, but He also rose again from the dead three days later. It is as if those parents had been able to walk from the sea and watch their much loved children being taken away in safety. Even more than that, by the death and resurrection of Jesus I will not only just survive this life but will live for ever.
We will remember them.