From your pastor…
Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16: 24
For the beginning of Holy Week, there was a modern version of “The Passion” of Jesus Christ in New Orleans. It was hosted by Tyler Perry, and broadcast on TV nationwide. Jesus and the disciples were hanging out at City Park and under the Crescent City Connection Bridge, and all over the city of New Orleans. Singers used modern songs to tell the Gospel story in a new way. What was most impressive to me was watching the carrying of the cross.
There was a huge cross that was lighted, and about 40 people were carrying it through the city of New Orleans. They began at the Superdome at Champion Square, and went down Bourbon Street in the French Quarter and through Jackson Square and to Woldenberg Park to the stage area. The image of that many people carrying the cross of Jesus together was a great image for the church. Together, we are carrying the cross as disciples of Jesus. There is so much suffering in our world today. When we join together, we have greater strength to face the challenges that confront us.
For the depiction of Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus was standing on top of the Westin Hotel overlooking the crowds of people. It reminded me of the day when Jesus was overlooking the city of Jerusalem. As Christians, we each have the Gospel to carry to others so that they can know the love and the redemption that Jesus offers in our lifetime. Jesus called himself “the Light of the world.” How can we spread God’s light through us to reach others who are hurting? How many opportunities do we have every day to serve God and not just ourselves?
Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, and he felt he had failed God completely. But God did not give up on Peter, and neither does God give up on us. Even when we feel weak and not able to offer Christ very much, Paul reminds us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We do not carry the cross alone. Jesus gives us power and grace to carry the cross daily. Let’s follow Jesus with complete surrender and dedication. Pick up the cross and carry it out into New Orleans today.