The gospel for Sunday follows readings that ask us to imagine a loving God, who surrounds us with goodness and strength and a multitude of challenges. Jesus confronts his disciples with a question: “who do you say that I am?” And then Jesus describes pattern for living: “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.” I imagine some stunned silence.
Six years ago, I slid Barbara Crafton’s “Almost Daily Mo” response into my lectionary text. I pick it up fairly regularly as a reminder: “Take up your cross" isn't really about patience under suffering. There's nothing plodding about this counsel. It's not about patience; it's about an embrace. Don't hide from your cross. Don't deny your cross. Don't change the subject every time your cross comes up. Take it up! Don't let your cross turn you into anything less than the human being God made you, no matter what it takes from you in the end. Find out just how much you have left and how to walk with it. Because your cross, if you have embraced it, becomes the Way.”