March 3, 2022
Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings confirm that a life patterned on Christ contradicts worldly definitions.
Deuteronomy gives us stark, either-or, advice:
I have set before you life and death,Deuteronomy 30: 15-16
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live,
by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice,
and holding fast to him.
It’s definitive advice, but we could probably do these things, right?
- Choose life
- Love God
- Heed God’s voice
- Hold fast to God
Sounds OK, doesn’t it?
It’s when Jesus comes along that it begins to sound difficult.
Jesus tells us, “Here’s how you choose life:
“Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Jesus tells us, “Here’s the God you must love, one who:
“suffers greatly, is rejected, and is killed.”
Jesus tells us, “Here’s what my voice says to you :
“What profit is there for you to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit yourself?”
Jesus tells us, “Here’s how you hold fast to me:
‘Take up your cross daily and follow me.”
Some have huge crosses to carry in their lives – war, famine, enslavement, untended illness, homelessness, persecution, poverty. Those who carry such crosses are singularly loved by God who dwells with them.
But if we don’t have big, obvious crosses in our lives – if we are among those the world deems fortunate – how do we follow the crucified Jesus to find our way to eternal life?
We need to get close to the ones God singularly loves. We need to walk beside them and lift some of their heavy crosses. We need to help their voices be heard, their needs be met, their rights be honored.
Not all of us can do this by direct service. But we can do it by our advocacy, our material contributions, and our articulated support for justice.
We need to make these choices for LIFE all the time. But Lent is a great time to examine the vigor and commitment of our choices, a time to take a closer walk with our suffering Christ and ask him to inspire our courage.
Poetry: Simon the Cyrenian Speaks – Countée Cullen, an American poet, novelist, children’s writer, and playwright, particularly well known during the Harlem Renaissance. I picked his poem today because Simon of Cyrene is someone who chose to carry the cross just as we are asked to do.
He never spoke a word to me,
And yet He called my name;
He never gave a sign to me,
And yet I knew and came.
At first I said, “I will not bear
His cross upon my back;
He only seeks to place it there
Because my skin is black.”
But He was dying for a dream,
And He was very meek,
And in His eyes there shone a gleam
Men journey far to seek.
It was Himself my pity bought;
I did for Christ alone
What all of Rome could not have wrought
With bruise of lash or stone.
Music: Just a Closer Walk with Thee – Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson