Lenten Devotions
The Second Sunday of Lent
25 February 2018

Gospel Reading for the day: Mark 8: 31-38

Jesus Predicts His Death
 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

The Way of the Cross
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

 

Hymn 287 from “Singing the Faith”
V1. Forbit it, Lord, that I should boast
save in the death of Christ my Lord;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

 

Our Cross

“Of course we know what it means to suffer. Last week they knocked down my uncle’s apartment building; it was four levels and in less than 45 minutes, the entire building was in a pile on the ground. We tried to stop them before they did it, but they wouldn’t listen. Afterwards, when they gave my uncle the demolition orders, he looked and saw that it wasn’t his name on the paper; the orders were for a different building, not his. When he told the soldier, he said ‘our mistake’ and shrugged and walked away. Yes, we know what it means to suffer. Our suffering challenges us, just like I’m sure yours challenges you.”

These words came from the mouth of a 16-year-old Palestinian Christian from Bethlehem. The other teenagers nodded in agreement. I had gathered a group of six high school students to hear their thoughts on this Scripture- wondering if the ideas and images that came to my mind were similar to theirs. I wondered how they saw their cross. Their hopeful responses came as a surprise.

“We all have things we must give up in order to be with God. None of us has to suffer in the same way he did, but we need to be willing. He wants to have control of our lives, and that’s not easy for any of us. He wants us to know peace and to be satisfied with the life that we have.”

“Our cross is that we work for justice without hatred; that we face the oppression and don’t stop believing in our God. We only fail if the situation beats our mindset; we fail when we lose faith and hope.”

“The situation here tests and strengthens our faith. The walls make us feel trapped, but we’re not alone inside them- especially when we’re following Jesus. We’re all here together and someday we’ll know God’s peace together.”

Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, thank you for drawing us more near to you. Thank you for the trials that make our faith strong. Give us the strength and endurance to persevere our own burdens and the love to help others endure theirs. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Picture Credit: “Looking to Faith” Taken by Bill Voelker, Bethlehem
Devotion written by: Elizabeth Heft, Global Ministries Missionary serving in Israel/Palestine

 

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