Sunday morning I began the journey of Holy Week to the cross and beyond. I was a husband that morning and joined my wife for her Sunday school class and then worship at her church (Arborlawn UMC). The worship – liturgy, music and sermon – was deep, spiritually rich, moving and thought-provoking.
Sunday’s worship ushered me into a deeply reflective semi-confessional journey. Recently I had received a promotional copy of a new book by Kyle Idleman entitled Not a Fan. The book reflects sharply on the differences between a fan and a follower. Many of us are content to be fans of Jesus. We sit in the crowd admiring and cheering. I cannot help but wonder to what degree that is true of me. As nice as fan behavior is, it doesn’t work for Holy Week nor for life as a whole either. Jesus doesn’t want fans; he wants followers.
My spiritual director has kept me focused in the prayer of Aelred of Rievaulx – “To see Him (Jesus Christ) more clearly; to love Him more dearly; to follow Him more nearly.” (If it sounds familiar it is because Godspell took the prayer, altered it slightly and added the words “day by day.”) To see Christ more clearly means to see Him on the cross. It also means that I need to follow him to the foot of the cross. The words of Jesus haunt me – “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it” (Mark 8:34-35). This is my fearful desire.
Today, Good Friday, as I kneel before the cross in worship, I find myself wondering what the true nature of my cross is. I find myself asking, am I willing to pick up the cross, my cross, and truly follow the Lord?