Thursday, September 3, 2015

Carry His Cross

Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor's headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Mark 15:12-21 

Sometimes we get drawn into things that are not of our making. Sometimes we become participants in a drama that changes our lives. Years ago, when I had just one child and was no where near the idea of seminary, I was walking up onto our beach with my young daughter. I saw something in the surf at the distance and when we got closer I realized it was a body. I asked a friend to take Emily home, and to go call the police. The day before a Coast Guard helicopter had crashed and this was the lifeless body of one of the service men. He was young, in his flight suit and his skin had the waxy white pallor of a newborn infant. I sat by him and prayed and waited for the officials. Something changed at that moment for me, something deep and permanent.

Jesus is being led to his death and falling under the weight of his cross. They compel Simon to carry the cross. He was a passerby, a man on his way home, a man with no responsibility or connection to the horrific drama  unfolding. This moment though, changes his life. We know his name and his family, so he must have been part of the early believers community. His life was shattered and undone and his journey changed forever. A stranger becomes an integral part of our story of faith. God invites us to see that what we might think of as random events might change the course of history - ours or another. Our willingness to participate in others' lives can make us instruments of God's love in the world.

Today I ask God to help me be present to the lives of those chance encounters. May we be those who are willing to carry anothers cross, willing to bear someones burdens. May we all be willing to lend a shoulder and strength so that the world might see God's love actively working in their lives.

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