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'We Know that God Still Goes that Road with Us'
Second Sunday of Lent, March 8, 2009

by Miguel Arenas-Herrera

 
Miguel Arenas-Herrera has been a Global Ministries missionary serving in Uruguay for the past seven years. He was a teacher of English as a Second Language, chaplain of the Crandon School in Salto, local pastor of San Lucas Methodist Church, and coordinator of the Renacer Methodist Camp Center project in PaysandĂș. He is an associate pastor of the Central Methodist Church in Montevideo. He has been working in music and liturgy for several years, as well as on Christian education issues.
Miguel Arenas-Herrera has been a Global Ministries missionary serving in Uruguay for the past seven years. He was a teacher of English as a Second Language, chaplain of the Crandon School in Salto, local pastor of San Lucas Methodist Church, and coordinator of the Renacer Methodist Camp Center project in PaysandĂș. He is an associate pastor of the Central Methodist Church in Montevideo. He has been working in music and liturgy for several years, as well as on Christian education issues.
Image by: Mission Personnel

Suggested readings: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalms 22:33-31; Romans 4:13-25;
Mark 8:31-38

The encounter with Christ radically changes someone's life. Nevertheless, there are certain conditions to following Jesus. Peter didn't understand Jesus' plan when He spoke to him about suffering on the cross. Peter had accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but he didn't accept him as a suffering Messiah. As a result of that, Jesus described his path to the cross and the meaning of it for the life of his disciples.

According to historical tradition, Mark probably wrote this passage during the 60s AC. It was a time when the situation of the Christian believers was not easy. Many of them had suffered persecution, and Emperor Nero had begun the first persecution against the Christians. Many of them were killed, burned, and assassinated. The city of Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Romans.

In some other regions, strong tension had begun between Jews who had become Christian and those who still kept their Jewish traditions. In addition, Jesus' crucifixion was the main issue for people, because for the Jews someone who was called Messiah couldn't be killed on a cross (Deuteronomy 21:22-23).

Jesus gave this advice to the disciples, to Christian believers in Mark's time, and to us now: "If someone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34, NIV) During those times, the cross was a symbol of death that the Roman Empire used for those who opposed the Roman law, criminals, and people outside the Empire.

To take up Jesus' cross meant being considered outside the law, an offender of the Empire and the Roman system. However, for those who became believers of Christ, it meant fighting against injustice and accompanying those who suffered from it. Those who took up the cross were accepting the consequences of their act, saying, "Yes, I will take it; I will be part of this challenge of faith."

Jesus was ready to go to the cross. He showed His love to us, giving us the example of sacrifice. He was persecuted, but He was not afraid of giving His life for us. This is a true expression of His love for each of us.

Mark gives us one main idea at the end of the passage (Mark 8:38). We are not to be ashamed of the gospel. We are not to be ashamed of Him. Otherwise, He will be ashamed of us. So, how can we take up His cross and follow Him? By spreading the good news, by actions and words:

"Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?" The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:37-40, NIV)

Do we understand Jesus' sacrifice? Or do we still deny Him, as Peter did? These questions for reflection remind me of Miguel Manzano's song "Cuando El Pobre" ("When the Poor Ones"):

When the poor ones who have nothing share with strangers,
Then we know that God still goes that road with us

Are we on the road with Him? Are we taking up our cross to follow Him?

Prayer:
Oh Lord! Give me the courage and strength to take up my cross and follow you. Help me to see your sacrifice in the life of my neighbor, in those who are suffering from injustice, sickness, and pain. I don't want to deny your name, I just want to serve you and shout that you are my Savior and Helper. Amen.

Miguel Arenas-Herrera has been a Global Ministries missionary serving in Uruguay for the past seven years. He was a teacher of English as a Second Language, chaplain of the Crandon School in Salto, local pastor of San Lucas Methodist Church, and coordinator of the Renacer Methodist Camp Center project in Paysandú. He is an associate pastor of the Central Methodist Church in Montevideo. He has been working in music and liturgy for several years, as well as on Christian education issues.


Lent/Easter meditations by missionaries and other resources.

Your local church may choose to enter into a multi-year Covenant Relationship with Miguel Arenas Herrera,  or other United Methodist missionaries, for ongoing support of their work. For further information, please contact:

The Advance
General Board of Global Ministries
475 Riverside Dr, #350
New York, NY 10115
Phone: 212-870-3718
Fax: 212-870-3775

Email:
covenant@gbgm-umc.org

Web: advancinghope.org

You can make gifts to support the mission work of Miguel Arenas Herrera, by making a donation through The Advance. The Advance is an accountable, designated giving arm of The United Methodist Church that ensures 100% of each gift reaches its intended mission or ministry.

Make a secure gift online: Visit Global Ministries Online Giving

Checks may be written to 'Advance GCFA' and placed in collection plates at United Methodist churches, or mailed directly to:

Advance GCFA,
P.O. Box 9068, GPO,
New York, NY 10087-9068.

Credit card donations may be made by calling
(888) 252-6174.

Please note on your check the name and The Advance Number of the missionary you are supporting:

Miguel Arenas Herrera, Advance Number: 14286Z
>> Biography


 
See Also...
Topic: Bible Christian love Easter Jesus Christ Lent Prayers
Geographic Region: South AmericaUruguay
Source: Mission Personnel
 
 

arrow icon. View Listing of Missionaries Currently Working in: South America    Uruguay |   

Date posted: Mar 08, 2009