As far as I can tell, the only cross regularly displayed in our sanctuary is on the front of the pulpit, two thin lines that can, depending on the light, blend in with the grain of the wood in which they’re cut.
That’s about to change.
Our Lenten worship theme this year is “The Cross and…” Each week we’ll be meditating on the cross from a different perspective – how it has been understood, and misunderstood, and what this freighted symbol Christians claim might have to say to us these days.
This will include a different cross-related image projected on the banner wall each week, along with other crosses on the worship table and perhaps other places.
The cross is a shocking symbol that has lost its shock value. It is, at its origins, a symbol of state sanctioned violence, aimed at those who would disturb the peace as defined by those who most benefited from that peace. The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth was not a historically unique event. Crosses – and the people on them, dying or dead – were a part of the landscape of first century Roman occupied territory. The message was one of deterrence. Don’t let this happen to you.
Yet Jesus’ death on a cross became a central symbol of Christian faith – a focal point of theological meditation on the nature of humanity, God, and salvation.
Now, after two millennia of church history, the cross has many layers – political, theological, psychological and more. It has been used to persecute, and it has served as a great comfort and source of soul strength for the persecuted. While Anabaptists appropriately emphasize the life and teachings of Jesus, it remains that the crucifixion of Jesus, the cross, accompanies our faith as an ever present disturbance in the fabric of the peace for which we would settle. It reaches into the inner workings of our psyche and out into our convictions about justice and the common good.
In the upcoming weeks we’ll live more closely with the cross than most seasons of Lent. Here are the weekly themes that will shape our worship:
Lent 1 | March 1 | The cross and the stained glass window
Lent 2 | March 8 | The cross and the lynching tree
Lent 3 | March 15 | The cross and redemptive suffering
Lent 4 | March 22 | The cross and atonement
Lent 5 | March 29 | The cross and the death penalty
Lent 6, Palm Sunday | April 5 | The cross and trauma
Easter Sunday | April 12 | The cross and resurrection