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Taking Up the Cross

I was moved by a verse from Mark 8:34: “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up the cross and follow me.” As that was read during the service in which we dedicated our sanctuary cross, it got me to asking myself what it might mean to “take up the cross”. At the most extreme it could mean martyrdom, literally sacrificing one’s life to death rather than turn from God. But what about less dramatic burdens (crosses) in life that don’t carry that degree of finality? Could it be that any SACRIFICIAL OBEDIENCE is an act of taking up the cross?

Some that come to mind as relatively significant cross bearing (sacrificial obedience) could be making a financial commitment to Immanuel’s ministry, or seeking a position on the Vestry, or chairing a committee, or leading the way into a new ministry, or coming alongside a person through our Stephen Ministry. But what about those ministries that might seem less burdensome? Could we function as a called people of God without ushers, acolytes, sextons, LEMS, prayer ministers, greeters, landscape maintainers, teachers, Bible study leaders (and participants) tellers, office staff, altar guild members, food preparers and servers, inreach volunteers and others who quietly serve? Does any or all of that constitute “taking up the cross”? My answer is unequivocally YES. I have to say YES. Scripture says that we need all parts of the body to function in order to be a “Body of Christ”. (See 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 on spiritual gifts).

While my words above might seem to focus on cross bearing as a burden, let me qualify that. I have seen and heard from others, and know from personal experience, that carrying a cross of some sort (again, sacrificial obedience) often results in a satisfaction that can best be described as an exhilaration of spirit, even a joy. It’s hard to describe but let me assure you that you will know it when you feel it. (Just as an aside, don’t conclude that I have any wealth of insight in cross bearing based on personal success. The truth is, I’ve learned more from failure).

So, as you look at the totality of Immanuel’s ministry elements and wonder where you might fit, if you see a cross, pick it up and see what happens! And finally, from Matthew. 5:16, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Alan Clark

Senior Warden


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