“I remember the deeds of our God...”
This summer we attended a reunion in my old neighborhood next to the house my family had lived in for many years. We were graciously invited to take a walk through our ‘old house’. Our family home tour and gathering with people with whom we shared childhood, neighbor get-togethers, struggles and joys opened floodgates down memory lane. The storytelling and reminiscing continues whenever my family gathers as we share pictures of the family home and our conversations with the reunion attendees.
In today’s reading, Moses is also doing some remembering with the people, calling to mind the way God has interacted with the people and their ancestors as well as how their God is present to them in the now. Along with the remembering, Moses also calls the people to realize how important it is to follow God’s ways: “This is why you must now know, and fix in you heart, that God is in the heavens above and on earth below and that there is other. You must keep God’s decrees and commandments….”
The psalm refrain, “I remember the deeds of our God…” continues the theme of remembering of the good works/presence of God.
And in today’s Gospel, Jesus also calls the people to realize what it means to follow God…, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny oneself, take up one’s cross, and follow me.”
How are we to follow God in our ‘now’? Do we remember and thank God for the gifts that are in our life…the people who assist us in our struggles, celebrate with our joys, and help us ‘real’ize God’s presence in our midst?
Our baptismal call is to make God’s spirit real in the day-to-day moments of our lives. But, how to do this in the midst of our busy schedules, ‘have to do’ lists, and sometimes just surviving the struggles that come our way?
I don’t believe that Jesus is asking us to go out and find or make up struggles so as to ‘carry our cross’. Perhaps the more difficult meaning of Jesus’ call is to actually embrace the day to day struggles that are part of our ordinary lives. To embrace struggles is no easy feat… Everyday problems, difficult family members or co-workers, our own limitations, as well as the painful presence of a major crisis can challenge us to the point of being anything but kind, present to others, caring for and with others, etc. It is at such times that trying to ‘be’ present to God, let alone being God’s presence is very difficult. It may be easier to shut out others and our God, to feel sorry for ourselves, and to wallow in the anger and frustration.
At such times, I find that if I grit my teeth and try to ‘plow ahead’ I certainly am not much good for myself or others. If I instead, take a deep breath, try to get a little space and invite God into the struggle, I might get a hint at how I can meet the challenge, embrace the difficulty, and maybe open myself to the Spirit’s help in learning how to be God’s presence in the midst of my trouble. Maybe this is what is meant by ‘carrying my cross’...
I pray that I might remember to be open to God’s presence in my life in the midst of difficulties, perhaps re-membering (reconnecting) with the Spirit a bit sooner so that I may ‘real’ize God’s presence in and through me and others in my life.
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