Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.
In the church we are now squarely in the season of Lent, a time of self-reflection, growth (after all Lent comes from an old word that means Spring), and listening to the teachings of Jesus and promises of God. This week we hear from the Gospel of Mark that Peter rejects Jesus’ foretelling of his own suffering and rejection. Jesus rebukes Peter, perhaps us too, and declares that if any want to become his follower they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. Denying ourselves and pointing to God is echoed in the psalm for today where we read “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord.” God tells Abraham and Sarah in the reading from Genesis that God promises to be God to all their offspring for generations and generations. The readings this week point to a God who works across all time to draw all things in to God’s loving, eternal embrace.
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
God blesses Abraham and Sarah
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord
The promise to those who share Abraham’s faith
The passion prediction
As we remember the constancy and faithfulness of God this week, we sing How Firm a Foundation. In this song we also remember that though we may go through times of trial, though we may have crosses to bear, God’s “grace, all-sufficient, shall be [our] supply.” While we speak of taking up our cross and following Jesus, we also pray using the hymn “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me.” During the offering, we’ll hear “Lord Jesus, I’ll praise you as long as I journey. May all of my joy be a faithful reflection of you,” words that encourage us to deny ourselves and point to God.
As human beings it’s in our nature to crave affirmation, recognition, and accolades for the work we do. What would it mean in your life to start from a place of service, to deny yourself and point to God?
God’s covenant promise to be God our forever might seem kind of basic to us, but in a way that’s exactly what we need. How has God’s faithfulness met the needs of you, your loved ones, your church, your world? How do you fit into that puzzle as you deny yourself, point to God, and be God’s hands in a world of need?