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Taking Up the Cross of Love – Part 2

March 10, 2012

In Mark 8:35, Jesus says, “‘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.’”

It is a wonderful paradox that when we take up the cross of love, we are actually renewed inside. As I mentioned, the woman I’ve been visiting in hospital is astounding the doctors with her strength. The love of her family is giving her life. Her willingness to suffer out of love for them is the reason she’s alive.

Have you ever noticed when you focus on caring for others, how renewed you are inside? You’re feeling down or tired, and then you spend some time focussing on others – perhaps visiting in the hospital and you after this, you find yourself stronger than you were before. This is the testimony of so many that the person to whom you are giving yourself in love is actually giving this gift to you. This is because Jesus, our Messiah, came to set us free. As Frederick Buechner’s says: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” The way of the Cross is the way of the joy of discipleship!

We live in a hungry world full of frightened people, and the same was certainly for Mark’s recipients. We are called to embrace life, with all its hardships – to shine in dark times and show the difference Jesus makes. Jesus concludes today’s Gospel with the words, “‘Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels’”  (Mark 8:38). Jesus has no doubt about people’s need to follow him – no doubt about his identity! He invites us not to have any doubt either. Let’s choose to live in such a way that, by our lives, we show the light of the Lord – show that the way of love is the way of life – and empower, free, and give life to others and ourselves.

At our last Movie Night, we watched “The Blind Side,” which tells the wonderful true story of the power of love. One of 13 children, Michael Oher grew up in a rough section of northern Memphis, Tennessee, and bounced between life in foster care and on the streets. Then, one cold night, Leigh Anne Tuohy and her husband saw Oher walking in a T-shirt and shorts in the cold. That was enough for Tuohy, who told her husband to turn the car around and get Oher. In an interview with ABC News, Leigh Anne said, “Michael was there, he had a need. We had the ability to fill it. We all fell madly in love with him, probably within 48 hours. He was an instant part of this family.” The Tuohys eventually adopted Oher, and with his adoptive mother relentlessly by his side, like a mother tiger caring for her cubs, Oher started to turn his life around in the classroom and on the field. After graduating from high school, Oher played for four years at the University of Mississippi and was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens. “I just felt like I was unstoppable,” Oher told ESPN. “I felt like no matter what, I was going to win the battle. Anything is possible.”

May we all wholeheartedly embrace the way of the Cross – the way of self-giving love – as the way of life, and empower others to dare to believe that “anything is possible” for them, and our world.

I invite you to join with me in the following prayer:

May your vitality, O God, be ours this day,
the vitality of the God of life.
May your passion, O Christ, be ours this day,
the passion of the Christ of love.
May your wakefulness, O Spirit, be ours this day,
the wakefulness of the Spirit of justice.
May your vitality and passion and wakefulness, O God, be ours
that we might be fully alive this day. We ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
(J. Philip Newell, Celtic Benedictions)

(This is adapted from the conclusion to the sermon at our March 4 Services. The picture at the top of this posting is of Michael Oher and his adopted family, the Tuohys. For the website from which the information on Michael Oher and his family in this posting is based, please click here.)

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