It has been only a little over one week since we received ashen crosses and heard those foreboding words, “You are dust and to dust you will return.” On the second Sunday of Lent, we heard Jesus predict his own passion and caution his disciples: “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.”
Too often, we are disinclined to embrace a costly discipleship. People come to church to receive good news, not burdens and crosses. We all want to be uplifted by our worship—by the liturgy, the music, and certainly by the sermon. In all cases, Lent calls us to go deeper. We are urged to a rededicate our lives to Jesus and practice prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
As I learn with horror that Coptic Christians are being beheaded in Libya and scores of Syrian Christians are being held hostage by ISIS, I am brought to my knees in prayer and convicted of practicing a non-demanding Christian following. I wonder how I would measure up. I honestly think I am pretty soft. I suspect that I am preoccupied with proverbial first world problems and preserving a privileged church.
And so, I ask myself how do I go deeper this Lent? What cross must I take up? How must I lose my life? I don’t know the answer. I don’t know if I have the courage. And so I ask, will you walk this way with me? Can we struggle together to embrace a more costly discipleship?
May Jesus accompany us and bless us on this way,
The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes
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