A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin and sermon.


PRELUDE                                             “Larghetto”                                                     J. S. Bach


GATHERING SONG                        “Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus”                   red book # 802


KYRIE                                                                                                                       pg. 98 (set 1)



GENESIS 17:1–7, 15–16                                   

PSALM 22:23-31

ROMANS 4:13–25                                            

MARK 8:31-38

SERMON                                                                                                       Pastor Chris Halverson

Just before today’s reading, the Apostle Peter made a magnificent proclamation of faith—he said “They say you are John the Baptist, but you aren’t John the Baptist. They say you are Elijah, but you aren’t Elijah. They say you are one of the prophets, but you aren’t one of the prophets. No! Jesus, you are the Messiah—the Christ!”

Today, however, Peter proves that he doesn’t know what he meant by that proclamation.

In his response to Jesus we see that Peter doesn’t understand the meaning of discipleship or the meaning of cross bearing.

He assumed discipleship meant following Jesus from glory to glory—away from the gory cross of Calvary.

He assumed cross bearing had no greater meaning than torture and death.

Today I want to tell Peter, and I want to tell you, that Discipleship leads to cross bearing and cross bearing ought to be redemptive. Discipleship leads to cross bearing and cross bearing ought to be redemptive.


Peter, hears Jesus’ description of where he is going—suffering, rejection, death, and resurrection… and can’t reconcile that description of Jesus’ fate with his own description—Messiah.

To this Jesus responds harshly—Get behind me Satan.

And those words burn when we hear them.

We hear them as a rebuke not only of Peter—but a rebuke of all of us—especially during the season of Lent this rebuke echoes with our own assessment that “we humans are bound to sin.” It echoes in dust and ash. It echoes until we think “perhaps we deserve a tongue lashing by our Savior—we deserve to be called Satan.”

For that matter, as Lutherans, we sometimes cling to Justification by Grace and not by works, to the point that we have a sort of selective hearing, we don’t hear that Jesus is calling us to do something—because we rightly fear it will become some sort of attempt to justify ourselves. Because of that when we read today’s gospel we hear the curse, but the not the command.

We put such an emphasis on the ending of this very real and very challenging rebuke, “Satan” that we easily miss the other half of Jesus’ words… “Get behind me.”

Jesus is saying to Peter “You got off the path—Get behind me and follow me.”

In case you didn’t hear it the first time he repeats this command to the entire crowd, “If you want to BE MY FOLLOWERS take up your cross and FOLLOW ME.”

I remember a little over 6 months ago when I first met with St. Stephen’s Church Council along with Bishop Riley to discuss being called here as your pastor.

After that meeting Bishop Riley took me to out lunch, and then, as we prepared to leave, he told me that the New Jersey Turn Pike was backed up all the way to Philadelphia…

(At the time I didn’t realize how regular of an occurrence that was… )

So he told me to take US 1 South instead.

Then, after a few unsuccessful attempts to explain to me where US 1 South was, he said, “Just drive behind mefollow my car.”

And that’s part of what is going on in today’s gospel—Peter doesn’t know how to get where he needs to go, so Jesus leads the way!

Knowing my sense of direction, if I hadn’t followed behind the Bishop I would have likely ended up in Nova Scotia instead of back Baltimore.

Likewise, I doubt Peter would have ended up where he needed to be—I bet he wouldn’t have ended up at the Cross of Christ.

Jesus is heading to the cross of Calvary—Jesus is preparing to bear the cross and is calling Peter, and the crowd, and yes us, to do the same thing– Jesus calls us to that same place—to that same calling—cross bearing.

Discipleship—following Jesus—leads to cross-bearing

And that phrase—bearing our cross—Our cross to bear—Cross-bearing—is overused and often misused.

For example—a friend of mine likes to drink regular coke, but chooses to drinks diet coke instead—he claims that is his “cross to bear.”

On the other extreme, some people in abusive relationships claim staying in that relationship—being beat by the one they love—is “their cross to bear.” Sometimes—they have even been told, “being beaten is your cross to bear,” by their clergyperson!

I want to assure you, neither of these—diet coke or abuse—qualifies as bearing a cross—at least not bearing Jesus’ cross.

The cross of Christ wasn’t a small easy sacrifice on Jesus’ part—it was the death of the Son of God.

Neither was it an unchosen abuse—Jesus knew where he was headed, and explicitly took the cross on when he said, “thy will not my will,” in the garden of Gethsemane.

More importantly, Jesus’ cross leads to new life, resurrection, and redemption.

Cross bearing is choosing to do something hard, even painful or sacrificial, for the sake of new life! (Let me say that again)

Take for example parents who have lost their child to cancer. Despite what some people will say to them, loosing a child isn’t bearing a cross—it’s coping with a horrible situation.

However, if that same set of parents participate in a cancer survivors group—reliving the pain of their child’s death for the sake of both their own healing and to help others who are suffering in similar situations—that is a cross to bear.

That is bearing a cross—because cross bearing ought to be redemptive.

Jesus rebukes Peter because Peter refused to link following the Messiah with execution—Christ with Cross.             He calls Peter to follow after him, so that he might conform his life to the cross—so that people would know who he follows based off his sacrificial, life-giving, acts.

Discipleship leads to cross bearing and cross bearing ought to be redemptive.



HYMN of the DAY                               “O Zion, Haste”                                   red book # 668






OFFERTORY  ANTHEM                          “That Old Rugged Cross”                       Besig/Price



COMMUNION SONG                                                                               

             “Let There Be Peace on Earth”  also red # 334 vrs. 1, 2, 3, Lent 2, red # 324



SENDING SONG                        “Take My Life, That I May Be”                   red book # 583