Take Up Your Cross
Sean Langdon of Springfield, OR, USA
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. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” -Mark 8:34-38
I was born into a Community of Christ family. At the age of eight, I was baptized and confirmed. In my teenage years, I became profoundly aware of the Divine and of my love for this faith community. At the age of 20, I accepted my first of three priesthood calls. In my faith journey many mile markers have pointed toward significant events in my discipleship.
At age 25, I engaged in an ecumenical ministry in Puyallup, Washington, known as “Freezing Nights.” This is a homeless shelter ministry sponsored by churches that work collaboratively to provide nightly shelter for our homeless friends during the cold months of the year. Having never worked with the unsheltered before, I dove right in as the site co-coordinator for Community of Christ and invited the congregation to join us in a journey of bringing ministry to this underserved and ignored population. We were the new “every-other-Monday” church shelter.
Along with other volunteers, I was responsible for setup, made numerous hospital visits, prepared food, served food, cleaned up messes, pulled countless all-nighters, and even made the occasional visit to the police department to visit a new friend in jail. Most importantly, I listened to stories and created new friendships.
The ministry was disruptive. It was messy. It was uncomfortable. It was out of my comfort zone. It was humbling. It was AMAZING. I had already decided to follow Jesus, but this was my conversion experience in living out Christ’s mission. I finally understood what it meant when Jesus said, “Take up my cross and follow me.” I had to look beyond myself and my insecurities and move forward in discipleship.
“Be vulnerable to divine grace” (Doctrine and Covenants Section 163:10b).
This month, spend time each day noticing where divine grace is already pouring forth. Perhaps it is a simple awareness of creation’s systems and cycles that support our daily existence. The sun rises each day without being asked. There are underlying rhythms and relationships that hold the fabric of our lives together. Sometimes they fall into the background of our lives. We forget to see the natural generosity that spills over throughout our days-of the planet, the people we love, the Sacred Presence in all moments, the kindness of strangers we encounter, and the gifts we carry within. What is already being given in your life? What does it look like to be vulnerable to divine grace today?\xe2\x80\x83
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.