|Pentecost, Year C||June 9, 2019||The Day of Pentecost, Year C||Acts 2:1-21, John 14:8-17, 25-27|
|Easter 7, Year C||June 2, 2019||The Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C||Psalm 97, Acts 16:16-34, John 17:20-26|
|Easter 6, Year C||May 26, 2019||Easter 6, Year C||John 14:23-29|
|Easter 5, Year C||May 19, 2019||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 13:31-35|
|Easter 4, Year C||May 12, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C||Psalm 23; John 10:22-30|
|Easter 3, Year C||May 5, 2019||Third Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 21:1-19|
|Easter 2, Year C||April 28, 2019||Easter 2, Year 2||John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, 2019||April 21, 2019||Easter Sunday||John 20:1-18|
|Good Friday, 2019||April 19, 2019||Good Friday||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019||April 18, 2019||Maundy Thursday||John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|➤Palm Sunday, Year C||April 14, 2019||Palm Sunday, Year C||Luke 23:26|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||April 7, 2019||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||John 12:1-8|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 31, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C 2019||Joshua 5:9-12;Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 24, 2019||Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:1-9|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 17, 2019||Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:31-35,Philippians 3:17-4:1|
Palm Sunday, Year C
Sermon Date:April 14, 2019
Scripture: Luke 23:26
Liturgy Calendar: Palm Sunday, Year C
“Christ Carrying the Cross” – Titian (1560)
Simon Peter, at the beginning of this story, tells Jesus that he will follow him to prison and to death. And he does follow Jesus to the home of the high priest after Jesus is arrested.
But because Peter fears for his life, he denies even knowing Jesus three times when asked if he is one of Jesus’ followers. When the cock crows and Jesus turns and looks at Peter, and Peter realizes what he has done, he goes out weeping bitterly.
As Jesus is being led away to Golgotha to be crucified, Jesus turns for a moment to see who is carrying his cross, and he sees not Simon Peter, who has run away out of fear, but another Simon, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus.
Now, I imagine that Simon Peter would give ANYTHING to take Simon of Cyrene’s place and follow behind Jesus on the way to Golgotha, carrying the cross and easing the burden that Jesus bears, but Simon Peter lost that opportunity by being so afraid.
And now, this other Simon, Simon of Cyrene, has been given the honor of bearing the Lord’s own cross, and Simon Peter can only watch from a distance.
Perhaps you may think that this Simon of Cyrene happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
After all, he must have been frightened and shocked to be suddenly seized by soldiers, and forced to join this sorry procession, being made to carry the cross of a man condemned to death.
In the whole Bible, Simon of Cyrene only appears here—carrying the cross of Jesus on the way to Golgotha.
But his one appearance is of supreme importance,
because we all will have the opportunity to be Simon of Cyrene.
We all know what it’s like to have to do something that we never expected to do, pressed into service by events beyond our control. We’ve all been given the opportunity to pick up and carry the crosses that we’re so roughly and unexpectedly handed.
When her husband Frank was diagnosed with the terminal illness ALS, Salli, his wife, was forced by this treacherous illness to follow behind Frank on his way to death.
When the illness struck, she was frightened and shocked, but the illness gave her the opportunity to take up that unexpected cross and carry it along the journey Frank made to his death.
And she will continue to feel the weight of that cross on her shoulders for a while, like a phantom weight or pain as she deals with the grief of Frank’s death from ALS.
Rob went through this same sort of cross bearing as he cared for Marsha, dying of cancer, and he can still feel the weight of that cross, even now.
My mother, not as suddenly seized, also carries a similar sort of cross, as she has taken on more and more of the physical care of my father, who continues to fail physically. She is following behind him, helping him to carry his cross, in a way that she could have never expected when they were first married, or even several years ago.
I know a woman who had twins, born with extreme handicaps because of genetic issues. They weren’t expected to live into their teens, but this woman and her husband have carried this completely unexpected cross and have cared for their sons so well that the boys have lived into their twenties in spite of all sorts of physical setbacks.
Robert cared for his Uncle Peter. Barbara helps to take care of Vivian, who has no children. Brad cares for his parents.
All of us know, deep down inside, even if no one else knows, of a time, when we were blissfully living our lives, and then we were seized and found ourselves weighted down with a cross that didn’t even belong to us.
And we chose to carry that cross.
Or we chose to run away instead of picking up that cross and carrying it.
I would like to propose to you that Simon of Cyrene was not in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Simon of Cyrene was in the right place at the right time.
When we find ourselves pressed into unexpected cross carrying, we too may also be in the right place at the right time.
Because when we are given these unexpected crosses to carry, we are not only serving the person or people to whom those crosses belong, but we are serving God as well.
When we take up these unexpected and unasked for crosses, we become the cross bearers of God’s own love, mercy and compassion for all that is broken, hurt, and dying on this earth.
Sooner or later you will find yourself in some unexpected way being pressed into cross bearing for God.
And when that happens, remember this day, when Jesus makes his journey to the cross.
Remember Simon Peter, full of fear, who ran away, weeping bitterly, because he denied Jesus not once, but three times.
Remember Simon of Cyrene, pressed into service, and carrying the cross of Jesus and following behind him.
Do not fear.
You are in the right place. You are in the right time.
So when the Lord turns and looks to see who is carrying his cross up the hill to Golgotha,
May he see you, shouldering his cross, and carrying it for him.