I have a cross which is designed to be held in one’s hand. It was given to me when I was installed as pastor and teacher at my church. It has rounded corners and it is smooth to the touch. It is unfinished and it is designed to absorb the oils from hands over time.
The cross is a somewhat strange symbol to wear and to put on our walls and to hold in our hands, but it is a fitting symbol.
The cross is not a symbol of death, but it is a symbol of new life. It is not a symbol of defeat, it is a symbol of victory. It is not a symbol which is exclusive to Christianity, but when viewed through a Christian lens, it becomes a wonderful symbol for the life of faith.
The cross is an object which helps me to reflect on the words of Jesus, “whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38, NRSV).
This is an interesting theme in Christianity: those things which often seem to be defeat, those things which often seem to be death, those things which often seem to be destruction are not ultimately what they seem — they lead to something much greater: life more abundant, victory more victorious, re-creation much more beautiful.
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death…” (Phil. 3:10, NRSV).
The cross is a symbol of our walk with Jesus and the road which is often laden with sufferings and trials. I am learning that the point of the journey is not to avoid sufferings, but to learn to see God in the midst of them and to give thanks.
The cross is not simply a bridge to heaven, as some describe it. It is an affirmation that we too must take on things which do not seem to be life-giving, we must take on suffering at times (not simply for the sake of suffering, but following God’s calling for us, even if it may lead to temporal suffering). The cross is a symbol of the affirmation that “I am not my own, but belong — body and soul, in life and in death — to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1).
It is a reminder that things are not always what they seem. It is a symbol that life and liberation are what God desires for us and are what God will accomplish, but that sometimes they come through the guise of suffering.
It is a reminder to me that God has called me to be faithful — not happy.
It is a reminder to all of us that there is more at work than what we can see or understand, that God has desires which are slowly unfolding, and that we all play but a small role in this narrative.
I hold this cross in my hands, hoping for the glory of God to be revealed. Hoping that God will bring peace. Hoping that God will bring resurrection and restoration to this lost and broken world, and my lost and broken life.