A sermon from Mark 8: 31-38

I think most of us, most of the time are o.k. with a faith that doesn’t ask anything of us, or maybe asks us to stretch a little one way or the other – but not too much.  After almost a year of COVID and crazy politics, and general weirdness in the world, we’d like an easier Scripture passage for February 28, 2021.  Maybe a little “God loves you” or “Peace be upon your house” kind of stuff.

Instead we have denial and crosses and suffering.  I know it’s Lent, but COVID, remember. We’re all just doing the best we can.

My husband, Eric, does a funny riff on that line that sends my son and I into fits of giggles every time.  The items change, but the general idea is the same.

You’re still in pajamas on your 3 pm Zoom call, no problem “we’re all just doing the best we can.”  Turning you underwear inside out for the third day in a row, no problem “we’re all just doing the best we can.” Broke into your neighbor’s house to borrow a cup of sugar, no problem “we’re all just doing the best we can.”  And it gets more and more outrageous.  I think the last time he did it, someone got hit by a car, but the driver didn’t stop because “we’re all just doing the best we can.”

Which seems about the polar opposite of “take up your cross,” but I propose that the good news of our text today is that they’re really not so far apart. 

“We’re all just doing the best we can” has a lot in common with take up your cross as long as you don’t forget the next important little piece – “and follow me” – Follow Jesus.  We’re not going to get very far at all with COVID or politics or general living if we forget that last bit and just try to carry our cross or do the best we can on our own. 

Jesus wasn’t sharing these teachings on suffering to punish us or even scare us – he shared because tough times are going to happen, Jesus or no Jesus, terrible things happen to people every day.  That’s not news.  What’s important here is that we pick it up without fear and follow Jesus, who shows us how to carry it well, how to really do the best we can do, in the face not of what Jesus brings to us, but what the world brings to us.

If you want to hear more, check out the full sermon here.