I came across this recent post in a blog I regularly read and its message seems so appropriate for the Outreach Blog. The outreach of our parish should not be considered as a traditional effort to help the poor who are our
"cross to bear" but because this work is an effort to "enter into God's fierce longing for healing and justice". Read on.
If you want to become my followers, deny yourselves and take up your cross and follow me.” —Matthew 16.24
The aunt who annoys you is not your “cross to bear.”
The cross is not an annoyance, nor something thrust upon you.
It is your free, willing and unresentful choice to be gentle,
to be nonviolent for the sake of justice,
to be vulnerable for the sake of healing,
to open yourself to other people's suffering,
to enter into the shame of the world with the enormous grace of God.
To take up your cross is to enter into God's fierce longing for healing and justice,
even at your own loss,
confident that being wrapped in God's love,
even amidst the suffering of the world,
To take up your cross is to trust that God alone is our security and our power,
that grace is absolute and death is relative,
that the world can get along without us but not without our love,
that forgiveness is more powerful than force,
that love is stronger than fear,
more lasting than death,
more real than anything else.
To take up your cross is not to go alone,
but to follow the Humble One, the Trusting One, the Gentle One,
the one who already bears your cross, your sin, your suffering, your death,
who wants to bear your light, your blessing, your soul, in love.
To take up your cross is to die with Christ
and to rise with Christ into a new life that can't be killed,
in which you can suffer but not be hurt,
and die but not be dead,
in which you are truly alive,
because it is no longer you but God living in you—
wholly present and infinitely loving,
and deeply joyful.
The blog is the Urban Abbey which is a non-residential community of people who are seeking to enhance their spirituality through Benedictine-based way of being in community and supporting one another. The Urban Abbey Community seeks to enhance one’s relationship with God and with others.
At St. George’s Episcopal Church, Arlington, Virginia, this way of being is lived in a community—the Urban Abbey Community—that provides experiences and support. The Urban Abbey provides another way for those who are interested in using traditional contemplative practices to enhance their personal relationships with God and to enrich the spirituality in all they do.
While the Urban Abbey is a part of St. George’s larger community, one does not need to be a member of St. George’s church to be a member of the Urban Abbey.
For information on the Urban Abbey, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.