Trinity Lutheran Church|
Where Jesus' Voice is Heard, Proclaimed and Lived
N60 W6047 Columbia Road
Cedarburg, WI 53012
Pastor's Word for March 2018
I have thoughts about the Gospel reading for Feb. 25. It is from Mark 8:31-38. It reads as follows: 34 "He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, 'If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'"
I imagine that the people following Jesus -- more than just the big 12 -- were looking for something in Jesus. Something that they could gain in their lives, whatever that might have been. What does Jesus mean? To what extent are we to follow him and his way?
I've been lifting weights now for 40 years (I can't be THAT old) and the way in which I exercise now is very different (most of the time) than when I was 16-30 years old. Back then I admired the professional bodybuilders, especially Lou Ferrigno -- since he was about my height (plus, the fact that he played the Incredible Hulk in the '70s TV series with the same name). I was very interested in becoming really strong and having the physique to show it. Well, it didn't really turn out the way that I had planned. What you see now is about the best I've ever done ... I joke with younger men and women at the gym who have been lifting for about 2 years that they've already passed me in strength and physique.
I spoke to two people the other day who are training to compete in bodybuilding contests in the next month or two. They look really good, but what they don't show or tell many people is that they are suffering both physically and emotionally. They have reduced their caloric intake to less than 1,500 calories a day, working out 2 or 3 times a day and working full time. They are not sleeping much -- perhaps 4-5 hours a night. And for 24 hours before the competition they refrain from drinking water because water can make a person look puffy. I don't think I could do this. It is too extreme for me (and probably for them too).
All this is to say that sometimes we feel the need to be the "bodybuilders" of the cross. We feel that we need to be superhuman in our efforts to please Jesus/God and make a difference in the lives of others. I don't know about you, but I feel like I'm a starving person trying to help other starving people find food (as Martin Luther has said). I'm no model Christian -- very ordinary in my faith life. I think that the disciples were too. As we read in the Gospels, the disciples were very much in need of redemption more than once. They muddled their way through their faith lives as well.
And another thing. Bearing the cross. In the Gospel of Luke, Simon of Cyrene comes to the aid of Jesus and helps him by bearing his cross a good portion of the way to the crucifixion site. We read this and realize that we can't do this alone. We can't be superhero disciples. We are just people finding our way, stumbling at times and being helped by others. Isn't that what community is all about? Helping each other? Seeking God in the midst of the people around us?
Well, that's about it for now ... I've got to go lift weights now. ☺
Peace as always during this Lenten season!