Crossroads - Reflections 8-30-17

 Texts for Sunday, September 3, 2017

 Jeremiah 15:15-21
 Psalm 26:1-8
 Romans 12:9-21
 Matthew 16:21-28

I don’t want to “dis” people who talk about a struggle in their lives as “my cross to bear”. I know that sometimes those struggles are very heavy. 
But, imagine being a follower of Jesus in Matthew’s congregation.  The only cross those people knew was the one upon which criminals were hung to die.  And they knew why Jesus was executed; so that those followers, and all who come later, would become a part of God’s kingdom – on earth as it is in heaven. Powers were crossed to bring in the power of grace, love, mercy.

Two news stories this week feature people who did bear a cross which revealed God’s kingdom.

The first story is about a reporter who threw himself on an alt-right protester who was being beaten severely by Antifa protesters. “What came to me was that he was a human being, and I didn't want to see anybody die…. And you know, in retrospect, it doesn't matter if he doesn't see my humanity, what matters to me is that I see his.”

The second story is about a Houston police officer who drowned as he determinedly went to his work (which at that point was answering emergency calls for help) in spite of the dangerous driving conditions.

Just stop a moment to reflect on those stories.

This reading from Matthew is the big transition, the big crossroads in Jesus’ mission. Each of the Gospels have this turning point. Jesus moves away from his ministry among the people toward his ultimate mission of death on the cross. Luke describes the moment: “he set his face toward Jerusalem”. 

Here in Matthew, the Greek word translated as “must go” can also be translated as “binding” (same word used 2 verses back in last week’s reading). Jesus’ journey to suffering and the cross is “bound in heaven” and thus “bound on earth” (thank you, D. Mark Davis). There is power in that image.

Perhaps the cross we bear is a moment of transition, a crossroads, when we move toward God’s kingdom, doing something necessary, not easy or practical or expedient (thank you, Karoline Lewis). I think those two stories from this week illustrate a crossroads.

What do you think?
Where are you after this week? 
Comments welcome.

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245