What you need to do today

nadim-merrikh-307897When I was young, more than anything else, I wanted to be a broadway dancer. I wanted dance lessons, but my parents gave me accordion lessons. Not quite the same skill set. I dreamed of dancing in the ensemble of a broadway show. I wasn’t interested in the lead, I loved the idea of teamwork and precision the line required. In theater, the production team sometimes issue a “cattle call,”  an open invitation for anyone who wants to audition to show up and give it their best shot.

Jesus issued a cattle call in Mark 8. It was an invitation to the whole crowd, not just his disciples. “Anybody want to come after me? Anyone?” All are invited to try out. Not just the spiritual (the disciples), but the crowd (those after Jesus’ works and wonders.) Doesn’t matter where you start on your journey of coming after Jesus. It is open to all, the protocol is the same:  Deny self, take up cross and follow. All can try out, but it is a tough regimen if you are going to make the line.

Be encouraged, Jesus calls you. You can start today, all over again, every morning his mercies are new. 

First comes denying self. Do I want Jesus more than anything else. If I am to deny myself, I must first identify what my self is after (other than Jesus.) To go after him, my agendas, my ambitions are not annexed into the assignment, but avoided altogether. Remember, somewhere else Jesus said, “Seek first my kingdom…etc etc.”

Jesus’ demands are not without reward. Seek him and the rest falls into line. All your worries will be addressed within the Kingdom of your loving Father. The promise is God’s joy over you, that’s worth it.

What are my “flesh’s” agendas and ambitions? A life of ease, satisfying my appetites, fame in my world. To avoid them I will need to take up my cross. This means I would: work and be busy with my assignments (in home and in heart), to eat healthily and economically; to offer with abandon the labors of my heart. All with eyes fixed on Jesus (source and goal of my faith.)

What are your “flesh’s” agendas and ambitions? What must you do to avoid them? 

Am I up for it? This morning’s Lectio Divina from Psalm 119 comes to mind as the only source of power if I am to make the line: Oh Lord, “give me life.” Both my power and plan come God’s power and plan.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you that you see in me the potential for coming after you. Thank you that you give me clear cut definitions of what I am to do to follow you. Grant me the grace to rely on your generous power and your loving face to deny myself, take up my cross and follow. Thank you and amen.

 

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Which do I choose?

Thoughts on Luke 9:22-25

I’m disappointed that the lectionary veers off of Mark, but I guess it veers toward readings that ground me in the season of Lent. This passage certainly does: the Son of man must suffer, be rejected, killed, oh yeah, and then raised. As a listener it would be hard to listen to the end of the sentence, the part about being raised, because of the shock of even the first word. I live in the epilogue, I know the resurrection, but those disciples must have been shocked to realize you were serious about the suffering that was to come. How bold they were to hang with you.

Then you describe what it means for them to hang with you: forget about what you want, be willing to die and go with Jesus wherever he goes.

What does this mean for me? Because I do want to come after you, and experience the saving of my life. Keep my eyes fixed on you. I will not be above my master. You suffered, I will suffer.  During Lent, I have commended my eating habits to you, I have vowed to avoid sugar and snacks, which I turn to as a way of controlling my emotions and as entertainment. Coming after you means suffering the boredom, blessing those who eat cookies, seeking you in the still afternoons.

The second reading Deut. 30:15-20 makes the Lenten message even clearer: You set before your people life and good or death and evil. You say, make your choice, blessing or curse. And then you plead for them to choose life.

Lord Jesus, you show me the way to freedom, it leads through suffering. Loving God, the way to life is found by obeying your words. Holy Spirit, you pray constantly for me to choose life. Have your way in me today. Grant me a vision of freedom and life, make it so vividly clear that I will suffer any loss to make it mine. Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil. Thank you and amen.