Take Up the Cross and Follow Me
Karen Tillery of Rich Hill, MO, USA
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. -Matthew 10:37-39 NRSV
The focus of our weekend retreat was shared leadership. The goal was for pastoral teams to decide on which avenue of ministry and mission God was calling their congregation to focus. We discussed best practices for leading congregations in mission, learned about different methods of prayer and discernment for groups, and discovered ways to assess gifts and skills of individuals. We were reminded to slow down and take time discovering God’s call for our congregations.
While visiting with someone during lunch, I was surprised to hear this person had already decided for their group what the focus of their congregational ministry and mission should be. They declared no need for wasting time on prayer and discernment because they knew what they were good at, and they were prepared to lead the way! My gentle reminder that we were supposed to decide the focus of our mission as a group seemed to be ignored.
Afterward I thought, how many times have I taken up MY cross instead of the cross of Christ? How many times have I failed to listen for the Spirit’s leading? According to Matthew, Jesus said, “Take up the cross and follow me.” Jesus was referring to taking up the same cross he took up daily. Jesus wanted his listeners to take up the cross and follow him as a disciple-one who was willing to listen to God and learn how to build the peaceable kingdom of God on earth.
Finally, each pastoral team shared the variety of gifts within their congregation and on which mission they sensed God calling them to focus. It was encouraging to hear their excitement for taking up the cross of Christ to build Zion.
I dwell in your presence.
Prayer of Examen
Spend a few moments recalling your day. Let details, events, and conversations drift through your memory. Offer gratitude for the day and pray to be aware of how God was present. What did you notice or feel that brought meaning? Pay attention to moments when you felt least in harmony with God’s vision for creation. Offer a prayer of confession. Pay attention to moments when you felt most in harmony with God’s vision for creation. Pray to be even more aware of and responsive to God’s presence in the days ahead. Amen.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.