Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”
He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:18-27
It had been a very busy week as we celebrated the last graduating class at my seminary EDS and had our last Alumni days in Cambridge. It still reverberates withing me, a deep sadness and a deep gratitude for an education and formation that is part of every thing I say and do. At times, it is a cross to bear when the church treats one as an alien and outlier, although that is something I was before going to seminary. I saw the mark of Christ in each and every person there and ache that we are being dispersed, as it were, to the four winds. And my cross to carry from here on out, is that while on the wind, we scatter the seeds of love and inclusion wherever we go, with great joy and thanksgiving.
Jesus is praying with his disciples and a conversation erupts as it sometimes does when at prayer. He tells them to take up their cross and follow him, although they really had no idea what he was talking about. They closed their eyes to the violence in front of them. They closed their ears to his death and coming departure. They didn't want to know. Just like us, they didn't think they could bear being part of the diaspora and not part of the tight knit group of disciples. But to sow seeds, to carry God's love, we must be scattered and sent to the four winds. We are never alone, despite the burdens we might carry. And we can carry our burden with joy, for we are knitted into the heart of God.
Today I ask God to help me carry this new cross with joy. May being scattered become a mark of great promise for us all, knowing that we are bound in love to God forever.