Pastors have a lot of crosses. Although, I admit I haven't counted, but my hunch is that there is at least one in every room of our house...possibly even the bathroom. There are several in my office. The reason for this is simple: people keep giving them to me. I suppose people want their pastors to have a daily reminder of the event that stands at the center of our faith.
And shouldn't we all?
There is something starkly compelling about the cross. When the Romans devised it thousands of years ago, never in their wildest dreams would they have imagined that likenesses of this instrument of torture would be for sale in every jewelry store, furniture store and knick knack shop in the free world. For them, the cross was offensive. The cross was death.
And yet, for the last 2,000 years, the cross has meant so much more. Even those who don't adhere to the Christian faith find themselves captivated by artistic interpretations of the cross, compelled by the story of what happens when the worst of humanity is placed on display. Indeed, the story of how Jesus was arrested, tortured, and brought to his death as He was nailed to two pieces of wood is one that calls each of us, regardless of religious background, to reflect on our own tendencies toward darkness. It is the cross that convicts us. It was the cross that changed history. It remains that it is the cross that reminds us of the price that was paid that we might have life.
We sing about it. We wear it on our clothing and our jewelry. We are compelled by it. But we rarely talk about it. Easter services bring hundreds dressed in their best, yet, Good Friday struggles to draw a crowd. We are a resurrection people, yes, but we are a resurrection people because of what happened three days prior. On Easter, we celebrate resurrection.
The seasons that begins today - the season of Lent, is our time to focus on the cross.
My favorite cross is one that hangs in my office. I bought it from a friend of mine who has a cross-making business. Every cross that he makes has a story to tell. This particular cross was made from reclaimed wood from someone's fence. Sometimes, I stare at that cross and I think about the irony...that the wood once used to mark barriers between neighbors now reminds me of a death that tears down walls. Redemption is like that. It's ironic. It's powerful. It's compelling. And beautiful.
And yet, the beauty of the cross is that its power lies not only in what it does for us, but for who it calls us to be.