Take up your Cross

REQUEST -> TASK -> ( A CROSS FOR YOU TO CARRY)

To the folks at yesterday's afternoon tea club

· An invitation to take part in ‘Pop Idol’ and sing a song on the microphone ~(reward …perfumes, ties and handkerchiefs)

To Moses

· To set God’s people free from the hands of the Egyptians~(reward the promised land)

To Jesus

· To suffer, to be killed and raised on the third day (reward~ to redeem humankind, lift the curse of sin from them and bring them eternal life)

EXCUSES

To the folks at the afternoon tea club

· I can’t sing (feelings of inadequacy)

· I could never get up in front of everybody (What will people think?)

· I ‘ll forget the words (fear of failure)

· My legs won’t carry me over there (I have impediments)

· Ask her she’ll do it! (avoidance)

Moses

· Who am I? (I’m inadequate)

· If I go to them and say….this and this… (What will people think?)

· What if the people don’t react or don’t listen? (fear of failure)

· But I am slow of speech and tongue…(I have impediments)

· Please send someone else to do it..(You can’t mean me God, you’ve made a mistake)

Jesus

· To take up his cross, to suffer, die and be raised on the third day.

If I were to say now come take up this cross and carry it into the vestry, it just might stay there in this very place until the end of the service, unless of course one of the church wardens removes it at a suitable part of the service, such as the peace. It’s not often a priest will make such a request of a congregation, what request? Well, will someone please take up this cross and carry it to the vestry.

By now some of your hearts will begin pounding, because you know what it required, it’s just that you’d much rather it was someone else than you. You know what has to be done, and if you don’t do it, it might not get done. But you remain glued to your chair, because you don’t want to draw attention to your self, you might fall or slide or drop the cross, and make a fool of yourself, worse than that people might talk about you behind your back…..So is there anyone who will pick up this cross and carry it into the vestry? Please?

It takes a brave person to say ‘Yes’ and just do it. Thank goodness someone was listening!

Jesus was one who listened to his Father’s will, and he would have been aware of the law, Jewish history and prophecy.

Put both together and he knew his destiny. Not only did he hear and say ‘Yes’ he became obedient and carried out the task the Father had in mind for him.

In this morning’s gospel he asks the same of us.

Whatever task we have been given, whether it is the common task of all Christians as set out in our Romans reading today

i.e. to really love one another, hate evil and overcome it with good;to rejoice and be patient and persevere.

…or whether it is a specific task we’ve been called to as individuals, and only we can know exactly what that entails…

then let us ask whether or not we are taking avoidance action or simply making up excuses which mean ‘NO’ instead of ‘Yes Lord, I’ll do it’. After all a person who picked up the cross in those days knew he would not be coming back. It would be a hard and lonely road to walk with no reward at all i.e.this side of heaven. And our lives will never be the same again either if we do say ‘Yes’ to God.

It was interesting though at the afternoon tea for the Luncheon Club, when I couldn’t get any takers to volunteer and sing; I tried to make it easy for them by offering to take the microphone to where they were sitting, and put a brown paper bag over their heads. That was when some of them began to say, ‘Yes’

What is it about the microphone coming to them instead, and being blotted out and made anonymous, that changed their minds?

God was willing to do just that in sending Jesus to us, to where we are, to show us the Way, that we might blot out ourselves as he did, and do something great for others.

It’s exactly what we ought to be doing as Christians…to obliterate Self as the dominant principle of life and make God the ruling principle, the ruling passion of our lives!

Who knows what blessings are in store when we say our ‘Yes’ to God.

Had it not been for my request to the luncheon club to give us a song, we might never have discovered the real talent that lay hidden there, especially in the form of Dennis Shepherd… Frank Sinatra eat your heart out!

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‘Faithful service is always likely to involve sacrifice, which may be unpredictable, inconvenient and intrusive, but Jesus is asking us for a basic decision to put him ahead of our own interests and desires. Only then will we find our ‘LIFE’ in time and eternity.’ (*The people’s Commentary by John Proctor)

It is part of God’s eternal plan that there is great reward awaiting those who are humble and obedient!

Let us not leave our ‘Yes’ to God until it is too late.