|Minister's Letter - March 2018|
|“If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8: 34)
Pope John Paul II said: ‘It is the task of nations, their leaders and all people of good will to seek every opportunity for a more equitable sharing of resources … this spirit calls for a change of attitude and habits with regard to lifestyles and the relationship between resources and goods, as well as an increased awareness of one’s neighbour and his [sic] legitimate needs.’
To forget self, is to turn away from our self-obsession and consider how God wants us to live. Society is obsessed with ‘selfies’ and in church, we are obsessed by numbers, hoping more people in the pews will balance our budgets. This is a recipe for introspection. To forget what we need, in favour of what the world or society needs, would be a church that truly looked towards its neighbour; would be an entirely attractive expression of faith. To do this, requires a change of attitude and habits beyond giving up something simple for Lent.
Carrying the cross is both visible and sharing in the suffering of Christ. I was interested by the on-line petition on the Methodist Church website, calling people to join the U.N. campaign to ban nuclear weapons worldwide. Further, the campaign calls on the U.K. government to engage with the U.N. campaign; which it is currently avoiding. The petition is ‘signed’ by sending a photo of yourself holding a paper reading ‘#Nuclearban’. I realise this is suspiciously like a ‘selfie’, but the attitude has changed. It is recognising potential suffering and present fear and visibly carrying the cross to speak truth to power. See www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/nuclearbansigned.
To change lifestyle, forgetting self and to purposefully identify oneself with the suffering world, carrying the cross are the pre-conditions Jesus sets out before following him. How difficult this was to understand for the early disciples – and for us. But Jesus remarks:
“If you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it.” (Mark 8: 35)