For Lutherans, being a Christian is synonymous with being a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is a person who follows another. In the gospels, Jesus says, "If any want to become my disciple, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34b) We are called to cruciform (cross-shaped) living. The popular news and culture site Buzzfeed doesn't always represent the best the internet has the offer, but Buzzfeed often run listicles that will "restore your faith in humanity," like this one (the linked article does contain swearing). What does it mean to you to follow Jesus? What is the relationship between the self-sacrificial living to which we are called and kindness?
Because Lent always coincides with March -- er, March Madness, the NCAA Basketball Tournaments -- Episcopal priests Tim Schenck and Scott Gunn created Lent Madness. For the last eleven years, Lent Madness fills a tournament-style, single-elimination bracket with 32 saints. One by one, the saints are compared and contrasted with one another for their merits, and then the internet votes to save one and eliminate the other. By the end of Lent, only one saint remains and earns "the golden halo." In 2021, Absalom Jones was declared the winner of the tournament. Jones was one of the first African Americans liscened to preach by the Methodist Episcopal Church. Later, he founded St. John's African Episcopal Church, the first black church in Philadelphia. The Lent Madness tournament offers us an opportunity to meditate on the lives of faithful Christians whose lives were undoubtably cruciform and pointed directly to Christ. As Lutherans, we believe we are all saints by virtual of our baptism, but we still recognize and honor exemplary and extraordinary Christians with our liturgical calendar. Explore the 2021 bracket and browse the Lent Madness website. What, in your opinion, makes an exemplary Christian. How do you model your life after Christ?
What does it mean for you to be a disciple of Christ? What does the cross look like in your life? These questions are terribly interesting because they encourage us to look within and without. Sometimes a cruciform life is one lived intentionally for others (think of, say, Saint Teresa of Calcutta) or someone who struggles to respond faithfully in a difficult situation (Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Maximilian Kolbe come to mind). Take this personal inventory based on the faith practices and promises of baptism. Where are you being led today?
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.