Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Cross of Life: Rip You Wide Open (Luke 9:1-27)

One day Jesus told the disciples to go out proclaiming the good news of God and to take nothing with them. Frankly, if you’ve ever done something like this you know it’s scary and makes you feel a bit crazy. Who knows if that’s exactly what the disciples were thinking, as they were going off to heal people, but it makes sense to this light traveler. Yet, “Sometimes risking everything is the only choice you have” (The Air I Breathe, “Pleasure”). Though, I debate what that means.

Unfortunately, when we risk everything – even if you’re a disciple doing God’s work – we don’t always do the right thing. When the disciples came back from their journey they just wanted to chill out with good ol’ JC and send the people away from their presence. The disciples, like we often do, missed the point. If Jesus didn’t want the villagers to turn his disciples away on their journey, why would he want the reverse to happen when the townspeople just wanted to be a part of the story? In truth, the story of Luke 9:1-27 is a lot like life; it’s risky, it’s messy, sometimes we miss the point, it’s not always a matter of choice, and it reminds us that we are broken creatures. Not to worry, “’Cause all my favorite people are broken. Believe me, I should know” (Over the Rhine). Like the disciples, I’ve taken risks because those risks felt like my only choice and, in the process, I didn’t and don’t always get the full picture.

After all this traveling and feeding thousands of people business, Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” When they eventually replied with the word, “Messiah,” Jesus says, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” Recently, I’ve been thinking that life, itself, is the cross we carry every day. We don’t always get to say, “Can I think it over?” We can’t always change how it works out; in fact, “Sometimes the things you can't change end up changing you.” And we don’t walk away unscathed because, “scars are the road map to the soul” (Air I Breathe). Most of all, life is our daily cross to carry because we join Christ in the crucifixion. Thankfully, by the grace of God, we join Christ in resurrection. Nevertheless, life, like a cross can be heavy and we need grace – I need grace.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.  
 – Niebuhr

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