On this past Tuesday, was given two unexpected gifts. First, at a Cabinet meeting, Ray Broadwell led our worship; he asked us to use a single word to describe the image we were going to see on a screen. A picture of hundreds of crosses, crowded together on a European hillside, was then on the screen. I stared, waited a moment, and then said the first thing that came to me. “Embrace.” That was the Spirit talking as I didn’t think what to say; I spoke what came to me.
Later that day, driving home, a friend called. He is going through a hard time; his father was recently killed in an accident and his wife is terminally ill. He wanted to talk and we did for a bit. Then he said, “Lately my life is what Jesus on the cross is all about; he suffered our sorrows.”
The gift uniting those two experiences is Jesus on the cross. Remember the words of the Communion liturgy, “[Jesus] stretched out his arms on the cross to take us to [God].”
To me, the cross is about Jesus’ embrace of us, and of our sin, our suffering, our brokenness. The cross is THE statement to us that God has endured the things that we suffer and while we cannot explain all suffering, we can know with certainty that suffering does not take us from God. Jesus, God in flesh among us, embraced the cross that we could know that marvelous love.
Instead, we know that Christ has gone before us into pain and that pain did not survive. Jesus’ rising is the promise of Julian of Norwich (a medieval mystic) when she said, “And all will be well; and all will be well; and all will be well.”
That is the hope of the world and a hope that a violence-ridden, often-times despairing world longs to hear. Jesus’ embrace of the cross is Good News.
As we reflect on the cross in the weeks ahead, until we celebrate the Rising, know that you are embraced by the One who embraced the cross. Thanks be to God.
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 298
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Hello from Harvey – What the Cross Means to Me
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