Bearing the Beams of Love

| February 27th, 2024

Dear Beloved Community,

I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing a rough-hewn wooden cross every day during Lent. 

The cross necklace was a gift from my former church, Highland Baptist in Louisville, who had one of their members create them for the congregation, using the wood from a tree they had to take down years before. Our staff would wear them on Sundays during Lent, but when I moved to Winston-Salem, I began wearing it daily through the Lenten season.  At least at first, it was partly a way to help me feel tethered amidst the disorientation of the move. But with each passing year, I feel the holy invitation from Jesus that echoes through the generations to “take up my cross” and be shaped by it in my living.

I wear it, because it reminds me daily, moment by moment, of what it means to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus. It reorients me when I want to offer quick and sharp words to the young woman ringing me up at Panera, when she says they’re out of cream cheese. It challenges me when I am frustrated with my kids or weary with a friend. It reminds me when I’m preparing my tax documents, or when I’m paying the bills, or when I’m buying our groceries that “what will it profit me to gain the whole world and forfeit my life?” 

This Sunday, I’m preaching on Jesus’ call to “take up your cross.” I’m not fooled into thinking that a cross around my neck is somehow the extent of the cross I have to take up and bear. Rather, this week in particular as I’ve read and reread this text, I’ve become ever more grateful for the reminder that “those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” In an era where so much of our common life is desperate for salvation, for liberation, for good news, I can think of none better that the gift of a crucified, resurrected Jesus, whose cross of Love bears the sufferings of us all.

Poet William Blake once said this: “And we are put on earth a little space, That we may learn to bear the beams of love.”

Within these beams of love, may we all hear the holy call of the cross, a call that sounds a lot like the gift and task of this life, but more like amazing grace.

Together in God’s work of Love,
Pastor Emily