Prayers4Peace: Fourth Sunday of Lent 2024

The Path of the Cross, Fourth Sunday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Mark Davis

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right.”

Whenever a member of our congregation dies, I imagine them suddenly joining the “great cloud of witnesses” that crowds the room when we gather. Most recently, a friend named Larry died suddenly after a long life of service and peacemaking. I will miss his face-to-face fellowship terribly, but I am confident that he is now part of the cloud that surrounds God’s people, side-by-side with Jeremiah, Sojourner Truth, Archbishop Oscar Romero, and other lesser-known saints who saw the path of Jesus’ cross as the only alternative to a world devoted to resentment, retaliation, and cycles of escalatory violence. 

The author of Hebrews does not mince words about that path of the cross. It is a path that requires endurance and the need to push past shame. It is a path of hope that can often feel like wild dreaming or dangerous naivete. In Larry’s peacemaking work in Palestine and Israel, Northern Ireland, Vietnam, and Iran, he cultivated the ability to listen to each person’s story of pain, loss, and horror, while ever believing that the only path forward was the persistent path of beating swords into tools. For the Christian believer, the long and difficult pathway to peace is not the wide, paved road of violence that is jammed with traffic, heavily subsidized, and lauded with parades and speeches. The path toward peace twists its way through thistles and overgrowth, at times barely discernible, and often lacks a place to sit and rest when one needs it the most. Yet it is a path forged by Christ, a journey that is accompanied by triumphant witnesses, and in the end, there is joy awaiting those who travel. 

About the author: Rev. Mark Davis is the pastor at St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California. He has served in this role since 2014, and he previously served as a pastor near Des Moines for 18 years. Since moving to California, Davis has established the Orange County Alliance for Just Change, which works to advance social justice through “education, advocacy, and activity.” He is also on the Executive Committee of United to End Homeless and also serves as the chair of the organization’s Faith Leaders Council. Davis has a Ph.D. in Theology, Ethics, and Culture from the University of Iowa and a Doctor of Ministry from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia. St. Mark Presbyterian Church is a CMEP Church Partner. 

Please note any views or opinions contained in this devotional series are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

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