Sermons 2009
On taking up the Cross, Lent 2B, 8 March 2009, Mark 8:31-38

Home | Proper 17B, 30 August 2009, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | Proper 16B, 23 August 2009, John 6:56-69 | Pentecost 10 (Proper 14B) 9 August 2009, John 6:35, 41-51 | Pentecost 8B (Proper 12B), John 6:1-21, 26 July 2009 | Pentecost 7B (Proper 11B), 19 July 2009, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 | Pentecost 6B (Proper 10B), 12 July 2009, Mark 6:14-29 | Pentecost 5B (Proper 9B) 5 July 2009, Mark 6:1-13 | Pentecost 4B (Proper 8B), 28 June 2009 | Pentecost 3B (Proper 7B), 21 June 2009 | Pentecost 2B (Proper 6B), 14 June 2009 | About Pentecost, Pentecost B, 31 May 2009, | On the Trinity, Trinity B, 7 June 2009 | Jesus and Prayer, Easter 7B, 24 May 2009, John 17:6-19 | How can we love? Easter 6B, 17May 2009, John 15:9-17 | 2 Sermons: Vineyard and a Baptism, Easter 5B, 10 May 2009, John 15:1-8 | Who's in? Who's out? Easter 4B, 3 May 2009, John 10:11-18 | Sacramental Meals, Easter 3B, 16 April 2009, Luke 24:36b-48 | Resurrection, continued, Doubts, and a Baptism, Easter 2 B, 19 April 2009, John 20:19-31 | He is not here, Easter B, 12 April 2009, Mark 16:1-8 | The Seven Sayings from the Cross, Palm Sunday B 2009 | We wish to see Jesus, Lent 5B, 29 March 1009, John 12:22-33 | For God so loved the world, Lent 4B, 22 March 2009, John 3:14-21 | Out with the money changers! Lent 3B, 15 March 2009, John 2: 13-22 | On taking up the Cross, Lent 2B, 8 March 2009, Mark 8:31-38 | News or the real Good News?, Lent 1B, 1 March 2008, Mark 1: 9-15 | Listen to Him! Epiphany Last B Transfiguration, 22 February 2009, Mark 9:2-9 | What do you mean, demons? Epiphany 4B, 1 February 2009, Mark 1:21-28 | Immediately and discipleship, Epiphany 3B 2009, 25 January 2009, Mark 1:14-20 | Right in front of your eyes, Epiphany 2B, 18 January 2009, John 1:43-51 | In the beginning, water and the Spirit, Epiphany 1B, 11 January 2009, Genesis 1:1-5; Mark 1:4-11 | In God we trust, Christmas 2B, 4 January 2009, Jeremiah 31:7-14; Matthew 2:1-12

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” 


            This gospel passage has always seemed problematical to me.  On the one hand it seems to invite, even encourage, a martyr outlook or an extreme desert hermit monasticism.  On the other hand it seems so problematical as to be dismissed as one of those things we can never understand.  But in a classically Anglican way, the middle way as we have understood it since the 16th Century,  there are other ways to look at it.


A wise old man once reflected on his long life and said this about himself:

I was a revolutionary when I was young

And all my prayer to God was:

"Lord, give me the energy to change the world."


As I approached middle age

and realized that my life was half gone

without my changing a single soul,

I changed my prayer to:

"Lord, give me the grace to change

all those who come into contact with me.

Just my family and friends and I will be satisfied."


Now that I am an old man

and my days are numbered,

I have begun to see how foolish I have been.

My one prayer now is:

"Lord, give me the grace to change myself.”

If I had prayed this right from the start,

I would have not wasted my life.  (1)


            “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” 


            As the earth around us changes from the cold of winter to the warmth of springtime, surely it is possible to change our­selves: to change any coldness of self-righteousness and self ­interest – or anything else that needs to be changed -- into the warmth of humble love, compassion and forgiveness.  The same life and love of God exists within us that existed within Jesus.  And we can help transform and re-shape our world in hope, justice and peace. (2)


            And another piece of old wisdom that still rings true for our present times:

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self centered; forgive them anyway.  If you are kind, people may accuse you of being selfish, or having ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.  If you are suc­cessful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.  Succeed anyway.  If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.  Be honest and frank anyway.  What you spend years building someone could destroy overnight.  Build anyway.  If you find serenity and happiness they may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.  The good you do today people will often forget tomorrow.  o good anyway.  Give the world the best you have and know it may never be enough.  Give your best anyway.  You the final analysis, it's between you and your God. It was never between you and them anyway." (3)


            Wise words to live by!  Also a good description of what happens in life and, on a smaller scale, even in our own church families.  People are always going to be people and have very human reactions and emotions. That is no reason not to keep doing the right thing ourselves.  (4)


“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”


            And finally, this:  A man’s car once stalled in heavy traffic just as the stop light turned green.  No matter what he did or how hard he tried, he couldn’t get the motor running again.  The cars behind him began to honk and honk, blowing their horns without stopping. 


            Feeling just as frustrated as all those other drivers trying to get home or to whatever destination, he got out of his car and walked over the first driver behind him.  This driver had been leaning on his horn in one continuous blare.  The man said to this driver, “I’m really sorry that I can’t get my car started no matter what I do.  But if you will go up there and see if you can start it, I will stay here and blow the horn for you.” (5)


            “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” 




            1.  Paul J. Wharton, Stories and Parables for Preachers and Teachers. as quoted in Connections, 8 February 1997, pp. 3- 4

            2.  Connections, 8 February 1997, p. 4

            3.  Author unknown, from the Abingdon Acolyte, March 2009, p. 3

            4.  Joan Myles, Outreach Corner, The Abingdon Acolyte, March 2009, p. 3

5.  God’s Little Devotional Book, p. 31