Monday, February 18, 2013

Crosses Everywhere - what does it mean to you?


This week we being our Lent Bible Study.  This is the second year we have participated in our synod's Big Read - churches from all over our state are reading and discussing the same book.  This year's book is David Lose's Making Sense of the Cross.

I'm excited to add this on-line study component.  Hopefully this will be a place where we can ponder together what the cross means - what Jesus did for us through the cross, why the cross was necessary, and other questions you might have.  

This week's study is based on Chapter 1 - "A Man Hanging on a Tree."

Ascension Lutheran Church, Columbus OH
The cross.  

We see it everywhere - stained glass, wood carvings, atop steeples.  It's on jewelry, on clothing, accessories - my current purse sports a rhinestone studded cross.  There are plain crosses, jeweled crosses, crosses with wings, crosses with crowns, crosses with Christ hanging from them.  

Crosses everywhere.

Especially in churches.

It's the central symbol of the Christian faith.  Most of the Lutheran churches I've been in have a cross as a focal point in the worship space.  Our Creeds have an almost step-by-step account of Jesus' death (and resurrection).  

Zion Lutheran, Lima, OH
But do you ever wonder just what the cross means? Does the image of such a horrible death trouble you - do you wonder if it was necessary, if there was some other way?  

What is God doing in the cross?  Lutherans talk about the theology of the cross - an idea that says who God is and how God saves us is best understood in light of the cross.  God is most clearly revealed in the cross, and the cross is where God's power is displayed at it's mightiest.  (Yes- theology of the cross is about a whole lot more than just that, but my simple explanation is a starting point.) 

The cross is a startling image.  If we think about the way we usually talk about God - all those 'omni's- power, and perfection, and righteousness, the cross is the last place we would expect to find God.  In fact, the whole idea that God could die, that a god would stoop to suffer such an ignoble death was a major hurdle to people in the first century.  Gods were supposed to be powerful, to be able to protect you, to defeat your enemies.  How could a god who died at the hands of humans possibly be able to save you? What kind of God is that?

It's a question we still struggle with today 

To ponder today:
Pollock Lutheran, Pollock SD
“If, as Christians confess, the cross is the place where we see God revealed most fully, then we need to reconsider all of our assumptions and statements about God in light of what happens to Jesus, the man ‘hanging on a tree.’” (Focus statement for Chapter 1 of the Study Guide for Making Sense of the Cross)

What do you think?
Peace Lutheran, Herreid, SD

If the cross is so clearly the center of our faith, why ask questions about it?

What does the cross mean to you?

What questions do you have about the cross?

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