Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

Pick Up Your Cross

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2009

Pick Up Your Cross

Many of you celebrated the joy of confirming young people into membership over the last few weeks, or you may have a class joining the church on Pentecost. Reflecting on that and on our recent Easter celebrations reminded me of one exercise I used to do with my confirmation classes. We took a 6 foot length of 6×6 hardwood, and had the kids one by one pick it up, put it across their shoulders and walk up and down the aisle of the sanctuary. It was a significant experience for those kids, as I asked them to think about what Jesus went through as he walked to his cross, carrying his crossbeam, feeling the wood cutting into his already-wounded shoulders, and to think about Jesus’ words to his disciples – if any would come after me, let that one pick up his/her cross and follow me.

Easter is a wonderful time in the life of the church – my favorite part of the year. But after Easter comes the hard work of being followers of Jesus Christ, and the hard work of being the church. Picking up our cross and following, bearing the load, and yes, sometimes bearing the pain.

We are coming into the season of Pentecost – a time to focus on who we are as a church. I want to invite you to take these coming months to really wrestle with two questions.

First, “what does it mean for me, personally to take up my cross?”
What are you asked to bear personally, for the furtherance of God’s kingdom in this world?
What role are you asked to fulfill? What are you called to sacrifice?

Second, “what does it mean for this church to take up its cross?”
As a church, what are we being asked to sacrifice for the sake of the gospel?
What burdens has God placed before us that we can be a gospel response to?

Think about your community and the needs of those you pass on the street. Think about the resources you have available (keeping in mind the joke that the church has all the resources it needs – it’s just that most are still in our pockets!). Explore where God is calling you to stretch yourself and the church to be true Good News for others.

As we approach Pentecost and beyond, may you reflect on these, talk about these, and finally, take action for the sake of your Lord Jesus Christ, and the world that he died to reach. Who knows – if we can do that, then we too may experience the kind of growth the church did that first Pentecost.

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