Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:24-28
One of favorite themes from my aunt Kay WalkingStick's paintings are the legs on the move. They tell the story of a people on the move, being relocated and taken from familiar and home to reserved lands, or people fleeing from being penned in. As Native people, many of our histories includes tragic times of removal and relocation. We are people who understand what it means to take up one's cross.
Today, we hear the Gospel story of Jesus preparing his disciples for the hard times ahead. They don't want to hear it. None of us wants to hear about the challenges ahead, nor do we want to live in times of great turmoil and crisis. We want home, security and constancy in all things. That is a normal human desire. And yet, Jesus reminds us all that we will be called to take up our cross, and in the face of many challenges, to follow him. We have to take up our anxiety, our worries, our joblessness, our pain - whatever it is, we must carry it and follow. The promise of following is greater and more than we can imagine. Abundance and healing in new lands and prosperity beyond our dreams. But there will be trials, and pain, challenges a plenty on the road.
Today I give thanks for the crosses I bear, and ask God to help me be grateful for those and to keep moving as I follow. May our lives be offerings to God's great blessings in our lives, not counting the pain and suffering but looking forward with joy to the days ahead. For all we do, we do for God and the people. We are called to follow and to bear the weight of today, trusting that the road ahead will be a blessing, for us and for those whom we serve.