Sermon: Take Up Your Cross on the Home Front – Mark 8:27-38, Romans 5:1-11

Having looked at the biblical story, let’s turn now to our own context.  How does our identity as followers of Jesus  lead us to take up a cross?  Today I want to share what I think “take up your cross” means in the context of family life  Everyone is part of a family at some point…a family of origin or an adopted family, and even if you grow up and live alone, you still can reflect on that intense time of living together.  Now we don’t usually put ‘family life’ and ‘take up your cross’ together. Maybe it even sounds like an oxymoron, something that doesn’t belong together.  I have never heard a wedding sermon on this text, so we might think it doesn’t have much relevance for that context.

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Prayer after Childbirth

Thank you, God, for deliverance.
Thank you that ________  has given birth
and that we can hold baby __________ in our arms.
Thank you for this mysterious process of childbirth,
the way a baby is formed and nurtured
tucked away in its mother’s womb.
Thank you for the intimacy of pregnancy,
with all its joy and uncomfortableness.
Thank you for labour pains, which opened a channel
to a new life out in the world.

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Advent Peace Prayer for Marriages

Mary and Joseph were making an uneasy journey in advent.
Hugely pregnant, and with bills to pay,
they were barely through a conflict that nearly divided them.
God of grace, hear our advent prayer
for people whose marriages are in trouble.
Thank you for romantic love, and the rush of desire:
help couples who feel empty when that fades or disappears,
show them that love is deeper than romance.
Thank you for harmony and partnership:
help couples that have lost their way,
who wallow in conflict rather than pulling through to the other side.
Thank you for lovers who honour and delight:

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Watching Divorce Happen

What God has joined together now lies in pieces.
What began with delight and tenderness,
reeks now with bitterness and festering pain.
What began with soft words of love,
grates now with harsh words of blaming.
Jesus, we look for you
as we stand near this relationship’s slow crucifixion.
Each says to the other, “Why have you forsaken me?”
As we stand on this barren Golgotha
we are desperate to repair this relationship,
which is not in our power to fix.
We urgently want to end this bleeding,

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When Family Violence Devastates a Community…

God of hope, hear our lament.
Since we heard the news of ____________________
our minds are reeling.
This is violence happening in our own neighbourhood.
Some of us knew the victims,
some know people who knew them.
Our community is grieving.
We pray for family and friends of the victims.
We pray for police officers who responded.
We pray for counsellors called in,
and everyone touched by this crime.
We need your help because this crime is not singular.
Every year women are murdered by their partners,

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Prayer for a Battered Woman

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
When I think I can change another person,
remind me that I can change only myself.
When I think that being hurt is your will,
remind me of your exodus call to flee from oppression.
When I think I should sacrifice myself unto death,
remind me that you died for our sins, so I don’t have to.
O Lord grant that I may not so much seek to endure abuse,
as to escape it entirely;
that I may not so much seek to model victimization,
as to model being a faithful survivor.
For it is in new beginnings that we find your grace,
it is in standing on our own two feet that we find your strength,
it is in leading our family to safety, that we find peace.

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Golden: An Anniversary Poem

The gold band stays the same,
a bit warped maybe,
the edges worn down,
some scratches.
Still hugging my ring finger
since the day
you put it there
round about an age ago.
Like your love,
still surrounding me
these many years,
still holding me
still cherishing me
still honouring me.

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Great Connector Prayer

Creator God,
thank you that we are a connected people.
We are connected in ways
other generations could never have imagined;
connected with wires and radio waves,
fibre optic cables and the internet,
connected with roads and train tracks
and airline flight plans.
We are more connected with each other
than at any other time in history and yet…
something isn’t right.

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About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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