Reflection for Sunday – June 19, 2016

Readings: Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1; Galatians 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24
Preacher: Alice Miller Nation

I recently read a story…it went something like this:

In a Spanish newspaper, there was an article about a teen aged boy and his very wealthy father. They had a falling out and the young man ran away from home. The father was crushed. After a few days, he realized that the boy was serious, so the father set out to find him. He searched for five months, to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate attempt to find his son, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper.

The ad read, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper’s main office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Signed, Your Father.”

On Saturday, in front of the newspaper office, over 800 Pacos showed up, looking for love and forgiveness from their fathers!

It is amazing when we take the time to reflect on how many of us could benefit from a good dose of forgiveness and love. Whether we need to forgive ourselves or another, many of us continue to hold something or some things that keep us bound.

Let’s look at our gospel text from Luke. Jesus is beginning to look toward Jerusalem, but first he takes a moment to survey the disciples. “Who do you say that I am?” In other words, “have you figured what our time together has been all about?” “Are you going to be able to carry on after I am gone?”

And then Jesus continues…in order to be a follower of Jesus, one must take up their cross daily and follow the way of the Lord. Luke’s gospel stresses the word daily…this isn’t found in other gospels.

This weekend we celebrate Father’s Day. We remember our fathers as well as all those men in our lives who stepped up and treated us like sons and daughters when the time was right. Without saying these words, I would guess that many Fathers have asked themselves questions similar to that of Jesus, as they were raising their children…“when is this kid going to figure it out?” “If I wasn’t here, who would take care of this?”

Typically, it is usually not until we are much older that we can really appreciate the sacrifice and commitment of many men who picked up their crosses daily to follow Jesus. We often think of following Jesus as a very holy and pious act…done mostly in churches or through many hours of volunteer work. That might be true, but following Jesus each and every day can be much less glamorous than spending hours on your knees in prayer and solitude.

How many times was money put away for Christmas or a special vacation, only to have it spent on dental or medical bills for someone in the family? This is an example of taking up one’s cross to follow Jesus.

I would guess that many of our fathers made the choice to play a game or take their children somewhere when they just wanted a few minutes to themselves after a long day. Once again, putting our wants and desires aside for another…taking up one’s cross to follow Jesus.

Sitting for hours in the rain at football games or waiting in the car for the child needing to be picked up from play practice or dance class.

Helping the neighbor kid, whose father died, with English homework week after week.

Our fathers and grandfathers and uncles are no strangers to taking up one’s cross to follow Jesus.

Yes, picking up one’s cross to follow Christ can be done in a church pew or in a moment of solitude. But that isn’t where it ends. Following Christ takes many forms and looks a little bit different for each of us. Picking up one’s cross also means living life with an attitude of acceptance towards all that has been given, or, sometimes, all that falls into our laps.

The world desperately needs each of us to take up our crosses and imitate God’s love and mercy in the situations we find ourselves. The world we live in needs the hope that God offers through our thoughtfulness and compassion. May we leave church today, aware that our presence and example of faithfulness just might be all the hope another needs to make it through this week.

Alice Miller Nation
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