Sunday, March 4, 2012
Carrying the Cross
Then Jesus began to teach his disciples that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Mark 8:31-38
It dawned on me somewhere in the middle of the night that healing is a choice, an affirmation, and definitive yes! we must all make. Real people with real bodies want to deny pain and refuse the need for help of any kind. And yet the asking is halfway to healing, the need the recognition of the true shape we are in, and the yes to God, our willingness to be completely human and turn the control over to God. We are full participants in our healing, no matter how long or instantaneously it happens. And we are the only people who can articulate our true need, our true desire and our honest desperation. And it is in that place where God draws near, settles in with us and leads us beyond brokenness to courageous healing. The truth of living the Gospel is an honest acceptance of who we are and how much we need from God.
Peter doesn't want to hear the truth, rather he wants an heroic, epic tale of strength and valor, where no weakness and humanity is required. He dreams his scenes in technicolor, comic book style, where the darkness and light are clearly marked and the simple order of things works just right. Like Peter we often want to be on the right side without any real participation from ourselves. Jesus says to us to take up our cross and follow him. Not to take up the coolest weapons, but instead to carry our weakness and need as a shield, to openly bear our humanity as we follow him. To most of us our true humanity is humiliating, and yet it the required garments, the equipment we bear - the full truth and our willingness to turn it to God.
As we walk this Lenten journey together, may we remember that is our weakness that God needs, our willingness to participate in the healing, and our hearts open for a new life that will bring us to this Easter to come. There is no other way than the way
of the cross, the Cross of Christ, and our bedraggled, mottled crosses that we have hidden for so long. May this be a week of walking for love, knowing that the strength to love and be renewed will come with each honest step we take.
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Words to remember for Today-
Psalm 22:23<i> For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty; neither does he hide his face from them; but when they cry to him he hears them.