Weekly Reflection – Cross Words

15 March 2024

One of the most striking things about the Christian faith is its badge or symbol, the cross. The cross is everywhere these days. We see it in churches, of course: if you’re occupying small children for whatever reason, it’s quite a good distraction to ask them to find and count them all! But it’s not just churches: there are crosses in a lot of flags and logos; in (non-religious) album covers or even contemporary fashion design.

This weekend the church’s year, its readings and services, turns from the stories of Lent to focus on the cross and the last days of Jesus’s life. Where we’ve been hearing about Jesus in the wilderness and in his early work of teaching, now we turn to Jerusalem and his final confrontation with the authorities.

The cross’s importance is of course a surprise. A cross would have been seen in Jesus’s day as a sign of humiliation and defeat. Roman culture was hardly squeamish, but it reserved this horrific manner of death for particular kinds of crime which it thought undermined the stability of the society itself: hence Jesus was executed because he had been (wrongly) convicted of inciting rebellion against Roman rule. And yet, Christians came to believe that the cross wasn’t the final full stop on the life of a good and honesty martyr, but the pivot of the world’s story. A cruel and bitter end became the beginning of new possibilities: the possibility of restoring our relationship with God and renewing the world as a place of compassion and justice.

So look out for where you find crosses in the next couple of weeks, whether you find them in church or not. It may be a very familiar image and familiar stories we share in church, or not. And maybe ask yourself: what do I think about Jesus who died on a cross? If this is God suffering and dying there, what might this mean for me, and what might I do in response?

With prayers and best wishes,

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Wakefield Cathedral

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