Easter provides us with the opportunity to remember God’s renewing love. Every morning we wake up to the possibility of dying to our old life and resurrecting into something new.
It’s the dying part that acts as a roadblock for us. Jesus tells us that we have to follow him to the cross: “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them” (Mark 8:34-36).
What does it mean to “say no” to ourselves? What does it mean to take up our cross? The answers today are much different than they might have been in Jesus’ time, when it was a real possibility to be crushed by the Roman occupiers for any activity out of the ordinary.
Today, Christians make up the majority of the American people. And despite the cries of “the war on Christmas” and the anguish over forbidding prayer in public schools, it’s not at all dangerous to be a Christian in modern America.
So we have to figure out what Jesus’ words mean for us now. To follow Jesus to the cross now might mean taking seriously his teachings, paying attention to the people to whom Jesus ministered, and standing on the side of the poor and the oppressed. “Saying no” to ourselves might mean forgoing our own pleasure and comfort in order to ease the lives of others.
To lose our lives might mean that we are called to help victims of hate, no matter what our friends or society think. Maybe we are called to look into the eyes of the victims who are crucified on the cross of sexism, racism, homophobia and greed, and then help them down so that they, too, can experience resurrection.
Maybe the “dying” we must do in order to be reborn is acted out in forgiveness, kindness and mercy. Perhaps our old lives of self-centeredness and self-concern are what need to die in order to live a new life.
The good news is that God is with us every step of the way of death and rebirth. More good news: We get another chance to be born into new life every day.
— Pastor Gage