“Now there’s this story I hear of a man who went to the Chief’s game and he had some pretty poor seats up in the nose bleeds. He knew that so he brought his binoculars with him and while at the game he would look down at the field, but what he would always see this empty seat down by the 50 yard line and he kept an eye on this throughout the game and by halftime he couldn’t help but still see that it was empty, so he thought well, if there’s no one there, I don’t think anyone would mind if I snuck down and sat there, so he decided to go down and there was a man sitting next to that seat and so he asked, ‘I can’t help but notice that this seat is empty. Is it taken or is there someone there?’ he said, ‘No, no one is sitting there.’ So, he decided to sit there and the man said, ‘well you know that’s my wife’s seat.’ And he said, ‘Oh, well where is your wife?’ And the man said, ‘Well my wife just passed away.’ He said, ‘Oh, I’m terribly sorry.’ The man there said, ‘yeah, my wife and I have been loyal Chiefs fans for the last 30 years. We have season tickets and we never missed a game.’ So this guy who sat down in the seat said, ‘Well isn’t there any friends or family members who would come with you, especially during this hard time?’ He said, ‘Oh no, they’re busy. They’re at the funeral.’
So, there’s loyal fans like that. Hopefully none of you are that, but you know in some ways, that’s what Christ is calling us to in today’s Gospel, almost a radical discipleship. He says in the Gospel to ‘hate your mother and your father, your brother and your sister, your wife, your children, even your own life.’ Now he doesn’t mean to truly ‘hate’ meaning to wish evil upon them, but he’s telling them, don’t hold on to it, not eve the loves of your life, don’t hold on to it, but to hold on to Christ, to carry your cross every day and follow him. He’s telling us that to be a true disciple, that’s what you have to do. Now it might seem radical and in the terms of the story it’s comical, but what does it look like for us in our lives? Because if I were to ask you, what is the one thing you hold onto most, the most precious thing in your life? Is it a husband or a wife? Is it your children? Is it some possession that you hold and you cherish? What is it? And if I were to tell you that it would be gone tomorrow what would that do to you? Could you go on? Well, Christ is telling us today that you would be able to go on. Everyday though should be a letting go of those things and holding on to Christ and you’ll have the greatest peace in your life. You see, in all of our lives, we will lose those things. It’s inevitable. No one wants to think of it, but it’s true. We will lose our spouse. Some of us have lost children, some of us will. We will lose these possessions, but it’s life. Life is always change and that’s why change is so hard in our lives. It’s painful, but it’s only painful if we hold onto it with everything and no longer move forward. That’s the hardest thing in life is how do we transition with change? You see, change we can never stop. The one thing that is most constant is that change will happen, but it’s what we do with it. That’s the transition in our lives. What transition is going on in your life? ‘Cause it always happens. For parents, maybe you have your children leaving home and they have to. You know they have to. You have to let go of them so they can continue to grow, but it’s painful and that’s where the Lord is calling us, is to not rely on those things. You see, the hardest thing of change within anyone is five things. Five things that change happens and it’s very painful. Often times changing homes, people who have moved, they’ve had to leave family or friends or maybe a job. Moving homes is very difficult. Any time you have changed your role, a new job, or maybe you have your first child or maybe your children have left. What is my role? Your role changes. Your responsibilities change is often times a hard thing and your identity. You know there is these that change, but we hold on to a certain person or certain thing to feel comfortable, to feel grounded, but it will always shift, so the Lord calls us to only hold onto Him. It will be difficult and life will be difficult, but with Him we can do it. You know again, he tells us to pick up our cross and now you don’t have to look for your cross.
There’s a story of everyone in a room with Jesus and has their own cross and everyone is saying how ‘well, that person’s cross is a little smaller than mine.’ Or ‘That person’s cross is a little different.’ It’s kinda that old saying of the grass is always greener on the other side. So you know what Jesus did? He said, ‘Alright, everyone put your crosses here in a pile. Go ahead just put it all here, just pile it up, all your crosses.’ And everyone did that and he said, ‘Ok, now go pick the cross that you want.’ And you know what happened? Everyone picked up the cross they once had, the one they already had. It’s not to say that that one’s easier, but they realized that they were given the grace to bear it, so know that all the crosses in your life, and you don’t have to search for it, we all have our own cross, but through the pain, through the suffering, know that the Lord gives you the grace to bear it. It’s through Christ. So, as you come before the Lord today where Christ is truly present before you, let us continue to ask the Lord for the strength and the courage to pick up our cross everyday, to grow deeper in relationship with him by letting go of the things of our lives one by one so that we can ultimately find peace in Him. Amen.