The Cross as a Sign
As we turn to the middle of Lent and begin to look forward to Jerusalem and the Cross, we see through the lenses we have been given. The cross is a sign. One sign can be seen from a lot of different angles.
For Rome it was a sign of their victory. No terrorist, no insurrectionist, no rebel threat to the laurel of Caesar will be tolerated. Rise up, and you will die. That’s what Rome wanted the sign to read.
For Jerusalem it was a sign of occupation, and in the case of religious leaders their collusion with Rome’s occupation. They did not want the sign to read that way, but it must have to those who saw the way religion propped up and used power when it was beneficial.
For Jesus’s followers it was a sign of failed hopes and conquered dreams.
Rome hung people on crosses as a sign of their enforced order. The leadership of the temple colluded with them to end a mutual threat in Jesus. The cross seemed like a sign of victory for religion and power, but it was to be the sign of their undoing.
The cross was the place where God faced power with humility, and instead of fighting power with greater power, surely available, God chose to go through death in the person of Jesus to new life. This is the way of the cross. In that way, we do not rely on temporary strength or violence, but we face death with the knowledge of God’s grace and new life.
This year, we have all faced death in different forms. But we know that when all seems lost, and all signs point to failure, we do not have to lose hope.
As Paul writes in the letter to the Romans, chapter 5:1-8
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we [a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access [b] to this grace in which we stand; and we [c] boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we [d] also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
So the sign of the cross still stands, and we still do not always agree what it means. For us, it means that we can never lose hope. For we know that God will always come with new life. It may not be in the way we expect, but God’s love always finds a way.
As we walk the way of the cross this year, Christians all over the world observe the holiest days of Holy Week in similar ways. We will do so here. Make time to be with us in the most engaged way you can. The schedule is on the website and registration is open – click here.
Join us as we walk the Way of the Cross to Easter.
The Rev. Daniel P. Richards
Christ Church of the Ascension
Paradise Valley, Arizona