Thursday, April 3, 2014

Take Up Your Cross

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them 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." And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power." Mark 8:27 - 9:1
I have been in Seattle for a consultation with a orthopedist and surgeon. I left home thinking I was facing surgery but I have come to find out, after all this waiting and worrying, that the worst of the pain in my shoulder will eventually pass. My work is to be patient, be gentle and to let it heal on its own time. I am so grateful that there is no surgery in my future, and frustrated that there is no real solution except time and patience. Those two words are some of the most challenging to me. Be patient and wait. They have been my cross, my angst, my human struggle. Rejection, pain and waiting are the crosses I bear, often times complaining loudly to God and whoever else will listen.
Jesus is moving toward his final days. Things are ramping up and the political scene is becoming a nightmare. Jesus wants his followers to know that the road ahead will be difficult. There is rejection and pain, like they've never known before. Trusted allies will become enemies.  He invites us all to be honest about our crosses - the things in life that trip us up - and to take them with us as we follow him. Our vulnerable humanity identifies us as disciples, not our perfection.
Today I ask God to help me take up my cross and follow. May our visible humanity be a witness to God's redeeming love. May we rejoice in our challenges knowing God goes with us on the road. And may we be willing carriers of the good news that there is more than a cross for everyone today.

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