Scripture: Matthew 16:21-28
Reflection: This passage is commonly read at the beginning of Lent. This year with our Lenten theme of Cross Talk, we too as a congregation considered what it might look like to pick up your cross and follow Christ. As a practice we even distributed little hand held wooden crosses to carry as a reminder of this call. Do any of you still carry your cross? I will often find mine on my dresser and slip it in my pocket, just brushing up against the cross or grabbing it when I go to get my keys or phone is a great reminder of this call from Christ.
While Lent is a season to be spiritually reflective, it is not the only season to do so. In fact, we are called daily to pick up our cross and follow Jesus for the sake of the kingdom. What do you hear in that call? Peter didn’t like how it sounded at first, he didn’t want to see Jesus suffer. But Peter also hadn’t yet caught the whole vision, where Jesus would be raised on the third day and lead the way to his kingdom.
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves.” “For those who want to save their life will lose it.” “For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?” Each of these calls by Jesus in our passage for today have one thing in common, the importance of community over individuality. Sure we are free to gain the whole world, but at what cost to others, at what cost to community? Sure we are free to avoid suffering, but at what cost to others, at what cost to community?
May we see ourselves as a part of this holy community, at MPPC, in Charlotte, and throughout the world. And may we consider what it means to pick up our cross for the sake of God’s kingdom for all.
Prayer: Loving God, you call us to follow you, sometimes we are eager and other times we are hesitant. May we not focus on our own gain, but on the glory of your kingdom. We praise you for your grace and mercy which stretches over the whole world. By your Spirit grant us the strength and courage to pick up our cross daily and follow where or Lord and Savior Christ leads. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].