Discipleship, the Cross, Suffering, & Cruciform Church

I have my first preaching assignment in my new role at Southside. I am preaching the last Sunday of this month, August 29th. I have really been wrestling with what to do with my first Sunday speaking to my new family of faith. I still have not come to any definite conclusions for a sermon topic or text, but I have considered preaching Mark 8 – 9 on discipleship and the cross. I have been doing some reading, and if nothing else, I have found some interesting quotes to share with you here on Jesus, discipleship, cross, & what it means to be a “Cruciform People” (a community of people that take the shape of the cross and it’s suffering servant on behalf of the world).

1> From Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat (Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire)

“Throughout this letter (Colossians), Paul refers to the church as the “body” of Christ (1:18, 24; 2:19; 3:15)… we… need to remember that the use of the metaphor of “body” suggests an intimately close identification of the church with Jesus himself. The church is “the body of Christ.” God still takes on flesh in this world. Christ’s body is still a life-giving presence – in the church. What happened to the body of Christ during his ministry among us? Where did that ministry, the story of redemption, ultimately lead? To a cross, of course. So is it any wonder that Paul would understand such a cross-bearing suffering to be an intergal dimension of what it means to be “the body of Christ” in the world? Is it any wonder that a community shaped by a narrative of a suffering God would itself become a cruciform suffering community? The only wonder is that the contemporary church so often is not such a community.”

2> From Luke Timothy Johnson (Preaching Hebrews)

“Discipleship in Hebrews means living like the heroes of the faith who lived as strangers and aliens on the earth, seeking God’s city… It means following the path of the suffering Jesus, and being transfromed through God’s power, as he was, into genuine children of God through the obedience of faith… It means enduring for the sake of an education (12:7). It means “going forth to him outside the camp” and bearing the abuse he endured.”

3> From N.T. Wright (Mark for Everyone)

“Jesus seems to think that evil will be defeated, and the kingdom will come, precisely through his own suffering and death. Why he thought that, and what it means for those who follow him, will become clear as we proceed. But this passage (Mark 8:31 – 9:1) makes it clear that following him is the only way to go. Following Jesus is, more or less, Mark’s definition of what being a Christian means; and Jesus is not leading us on a pleasant afternoon hike, but on a walk into danger and risk. Or did we suppose that the kingdom of God would mean merely a few minor adjustments in our ordinary lives?”

4> From N.T. Wright (Following Jesus)

“It is because of him that we know – we don’t just hope, we know – that God will wipe away all tears from all eyes. And in that knowledge we find ourselves to be a Sunday people, called to live in a world of Friday’s. In that knowledge we know ourselves to be Easter people, called to minister to a world full of Calvarys. In that knowledge we find that the hand that dries our tears passes the cloth on to us, and bids us follow him, to go to dry one another’s tears. The Lamb calls us to follow him whereever he goes; into the dark places of the world, to the dark places of our own hearts, the places where tears blot out the sunlight, the places where tyrants pave the grass with concrete; and he bids us shine his morning light into the darkness, and share his ministry of wiping away the tears.”

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