Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Take up Your Cross

Dear Abbey Members and Friends:

WOW! What a marvelous approach to the Love of God and what it means to be a follower.

I have to admint that when I'm confronted with the phrase, "Take up your cross", I'm drawn to the things that trouble or irritate me -- the annoying aunt, the neighbor who doesn't like me, illness or some disappointment in life.

As I read the words Steve has this day, I realize I am called to a joyful service, not a grudging one. This call is one I've heard before -- to take up my cross by opening myself to God's will. When I am able to be vulnerable, to yield my will to God's, to try and be as I percieve God's call, that is true joy. I experience a deep, soul-filling joy and closeness to God. To be sure that doesn't happen to me often, but it is something I strive for.

To me, Steve's words give an ideal I can work at -- be a channel for God's love and reconciliation, a listening presence for those who need to be heard, the hands of God that bring comfort and healing. Taking up this cross is not an easy task, but it is a joy-filled one.

What does Steve's meditation have for you? What call do you find in his words? I invite you to share your thoughts and enrich our Community.

Shalom and many blessings, George

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

If you want to become my followers, deny yourselves and take up your cross and follow me.” —Matthew 16.24

The aunt who annoys you is not your “cross to bear.”

The cross is not an annoyance, nor something thrust upon you.
It is your free, willing and unresentful choice to be gentle,
to be nonviolent for the sake of justice,
to be vulnerable for the sake of healing,
to open yourself to other people's suffering,
to enter into the shame of the world with the enormous grace of God.

To take up your cross is to enter into God's fierce longing for healing and justice,
even at your own loss,
confident that being wrapped in God's love,
even amidst the suffering of the world,
is heaven.

To take up your cross is to trust that God alone is our security and our power,
that grace is absolute and death is relative,
that the world can get along without us but not without our love,
that forgiveness is more powerful than force,
that love is stronger than fear,
more lasting than death,
more real than anything else.

To take up your cross is not to go alone,
but to follow the Humble One, the Trusting One, the Gentle One,
the one who already bears your cross, your sin, your suffering, your death,
who wants to bear your light, your blessing, your soul, in love.

To take up your cross is to die with Christ
and to rise with Christ into a new life that can't be killed,
in which you can suffer but not be hurt,
and die but not be dead,
in which you are truly alive,
because it is no longer you but God living in you—
wholly present and infinitely loving,
and deeply joyful.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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