Easter is not far off, but before we can celebrate the joy of the empty tomb we must first pass through the cross of Good Friday – and God knows, the past few months have felt something of a cross to bear for many of us! But without the cross there can be no Easter Day!
And yet in our culture we so often seek to miss out the cross – we want to lose weight without the exercise or diet regime; we want to make money without taking any risk; we want to be good at something without having to put in the years of hard work and dedication.
In short we want it all without having to pay any price. We want to do things the quick and easy way – the way that demands little of us and from which we hope to gain the greatest reward with the smallest effort. And yet we know at heart that unless we are willing to endure the struggle and the sacrifice the final gain is rarely what we hoped it would be.
The Christian life is no different. Christ asks us to, ‘take up our cross daily, and follow him‘. Taking up our cross is at the heart of what Lent is about. This is not an act of miserable, half-hearted, pious self-sacrifice but rather a celebration – an act of joyful self-abandonment and laying aside of all that keeps us from being the people God made us to be – people who like him love freely and unconditionally.
Such self abandonment is not easy because we have become secure and comfortable in what we know – even when it’s not for our best – and to lay it aside can be a frightening and uncomfortable prospect.
When we are afraid and uncertain we need to remind ourselves that behind the suffering of cross there is the risen Christ.
What might we lay aside so that we can better become the people we were made to be? What has the suffering of the last few months revealed to us about the society in which we live that we need to do differently in the coming years? What cross are we being called to bear so that we can not only truly celebrate Easter but also live something more of the life that Christ promises to all who follow him – ‘Life to the full.’
I wish you all a continuing fruitful Lent in which you might discover the joy of self-sacrifice that leads to an Easter full of New Life.
Yours in Christ